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350th NORTH SEA FIELD APPROVED



Date:29 Mar 2007
Details:The continued central role of the North Sea in meeting the UK's oil and gas needs was underlined today (29th March) as Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling announced approval for the 350th offshore field in its 40 year history.

The three fields confirmed today - Caravel, Shamrock and Kelvin - will be operated by Shell (in partnership with ExxonMobil) and Conoco Phillips.

While underlining the commitment to the industry, he will also set out the opportunity for the North Sea to lead the world in carbon capture and storage.

Speaking to the 6th Annual Royal Bank of Scotland Conference in Aberdeen, he said:

"North Sea production remains critical to the UK's energy needs. The approval I'm announcing today for new fields takes the total number of offshore oil and gas developments in the North Sea's 40 years history to 350. The industry remains strong, is valued and is important to us in ensuring secure supplies of oil and gas.

"We're seeing record interest in licensing rounds, an influx of new companies alongside long established players, a steady stream of developments put on the table and overall annual investment of around £10 billion.

"But at the same time the industry knows it is a maturing one. With that maturity comes opportunity. Last week I announced a competition to build the world's first carbon capture and storage plant in the UK. The North Sea industry with its skills, ingenuity and the capacity of depleted fields has the opportunity to make a compelling case as a world leader in this new technology.

"In developing and harnessing the knowledge and technology to develop oil and gas in a hostile offshore environment, the North Sea industry has trailblazed for the world. With carbon capture and storage a new generation of North Sea pioneers has the opportunity to lead the world again."

Mr Darling is the first Secretary of State to chair the government/industry group PILOT and will chair the next meeting in April.

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