The successful completion of this project, which only received DTI sanction in December 2003, is expected to achieve a plateau rate of 220 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd).
Mark Carne, BG Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:
"The successful development of the Atlantic and Cromarty fields demonstrates BG's ability to commercialize discoveries and maximize the recovery of hydrocarbons from the UKCS wherever possible.
"At a time of rising energy costs and increasing demand for gas it is essential that we make the most of our indigenous supplies. I am delighted that today we have delivered a new development that will make a valuable contribution to the UK's energy needs."
Robert Olsen, Chairman and Production Director, ExxonMobil International Limited said:
"We are pleased with the start-up of the Atlantic and Cromarty fields. Attracting such third party processing to the SAGE terminal at St Fergus has increased the utilization of existing infrastructure. Production from the new development will provide an important contribution to UK gas supplies."
Interests in the Atlantic Field are BG as operator with 75% and Hess with 25%. Interests in the Cromarty Field are Hess as operator with 90% and BG with 10%.
The fields lie 12.5 kilometers apart, approximately 80 kilometers northeast of St Fergus in the Outer Moray Firth. The Atlantic field was discovered in 1997 and lies in license block 14/26a. The Cromarty field was discovered in 1986 and lies in license block 13/30a.
The gas will be fed to the SAGE terminal for processing via the longest direct to shore sub-sea tie-back constructed in the UK North Sea. The SAGE St Fergus terminal is operated by Mobil North Sea Limited (an ExxonMobil subsidiary). Once processed the gas will be fed into the National Transmission System.
The sub-sea facilities will be operated remotely from the control room at the St Fergus SAGE terminal via a satellite link to the Shell operated Goldeneye platform, and then via a 32 km sub-sea electro-hydraulic umbilical to the Atlantic and Cromarty fields.
BG Group operates the Armada, Maria and Seymour fields in the Central North Sea, the Blake and Atlantic fields in the Outer Moray Firth, and some of the Easington Catchment Area fields in the Southern North Sea (Neptune, Mercury, Minerva and Apollo).
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