OSLO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Norwegian energy firm Statoil will spend 4.6 billion crowns ($610 million) to develop its small Gullfaks Rimfaksdalen gas and condensate field in the North Sea, it said on Tuesday, going ahead with the project despite low oil prices.
The company said it aims to tie the discovery into the much bigger Gullfaks field and recover around 80 million barrels of oil equivalents in total after production starts up in the first quarter of 2017.
Statoil has delayed several new developments as low oil prices and high costs have reduced its profitability, eating into its cash. Oil prices hit $59 per barrel on Tuesday, the lowest level since May 2009.
The Gullfaks Rimfaksdalen project will use existing infrastructure and also extend the lifetime of the Gullfaks A platform, keeping costs relatively low.
The field, which is expected to operate for 15 years, will produce 31,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day at its peak production in 2019, Statoil said in a development plan submitted to the government.
Shareholders in the projects include Statoil with 51 percent, state holding company Petoro with 30 percent, and Austria's OMV which has 19 percent.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Pravin Char)
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