Mr Timms said:
"I am delighted to give this development the go-ahead. Buzzard has proved that the UK Continental Shelf is still a vibrant and rewarding area for the oil industry.
"I would like to congratulate EnCana and its co-venturers for their enthusiasm and endeavour in proving the UKCS still has much to offer. The Department of Trade and Industry has played a key role, without our intervention in 2000, this area may not have been properly explored, and this fantastic discovery made.
"With estimates in excess of 400 million barrels of oil to be recovered, and overall investment of £1.35 billion - the largest in the UK North Sea in the last decade, and equivalent to around a third of the industry total annual expenditure - Buzzard will make a significant contribution to the UK's oil production and to the economy.
"Today's announcement is proof positive of the remaining potential of the North Sea and we will continue to work closely with industry to make sure this potential is fully realised. I hope that Buzzard will act as a beacon to attract new entrants and renewed commitment from existing players."
Alan Booth EnCana UK's Managing Director added:
"This is an exciting project for EnCana and our co-venturers which has resulted from applying new exploration ideas to the UK North Sea. We believe their proactive contributions, coupled with their North Sea experience, have been key factors in delivering a safe and robust development concept.
"When completed, Buzzard is expected to be a hub for a number of existing and potential discoveries in the area where EnCana has a significant acreage position as operator of several surrounding blocks. We plan to enhance this major development through an ambitious and focused exploration programme designed to capture additional, neighboring reserves that we hope will keep Buzzard running at capacity for many years."
Steve Harris, Acting Director General of the UK Offshore Operators' Association, said:
"The Buzzard development has renewed interest in the potential of the surrounding Moray Firth area, with other exploration and production companies currently reappraising new opportunities. Successful exploration can lead to more exploration, and ultimately recovery of oil and gas reserves, provided the right conditions."
1. The Buzzard oil field is located 55 kms off the coast of Scotland in the Moray Firth. Three platforms will be installed to exploit oil reserves estimated.
2. With production from the field expected at the end of 2006, and a field life of some 20 years, Buzzard will be one of the most significant oil producers for the next two decades. Oil from the field will be exported via the Forties Pipeline System
3. Buzzard, operated by EnCana (UK) Limited with partners Intrepid Energy North Sea Limited, BG Group and Edinburgh Oil and Gas plc, is located on two licences P928 and P986 on blocks 19/5a south, 19/10, 20/1 south and 20/6. The exploration well 20/6-3 was drilled in 2001.
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