Venture Production Brings Sycamore Field Onstream

Venture Production and Marubeni Oil & Gas have commenced production from their Sycamore field on March 6th at a rate of 27,000 barrels of oil per day, materially above initial project expectations.

As a result of the successful development of Sycamore, Venture's net production is expected to rise from an average of 9,000 barrels of oil equivalent ('boe') per day to over 20,000 boe per day, by the end of Q2 2003.

Following the rejuvenation of the nearby Larch field in mid-2001, Sycamore represents the second successful development project and third oilfield that Venture operates on Block 16/12a (the 'Trees' area).

Commencing production from two wells in the Central part of the field marks the completion of the first phase of the sub-sea development of Sycamore, a project that resulted from a major geological and geophysical re-interpretation of the area carried out by Venture in 2001. The second and third phases, which are planned for 2003, will see the addition of another producer in the Northern area and up to two water injection wells to support the Central and Northern producers. Depending upon the success of the second and third phases, the Southern area may also be developed in the near future. Total gross recoverable liquid reserves are estimated to be 24 million boe. As operator, Venture holds a 64.51% interest in the field with Marubeni Oil & Gas (U.K.) holding the remaining 35.49%.

From the outset, the Venture board set an aggressive development timetable for Sycamore with start-up targeted for 2Q 2003. Management of the project risk associated with what was the first installation of a major North Sea pipeline bundle completed during the winter months was central to the program. By gaining early alignment with partners and key contractors, Venture was able to execute the project on budget yet also deliver first oil one month earlier than originally planned.

The pipeline and controls bundle connecting the new sub-sea Sycamore manifold to the existing Birch manifold was manufactured by Subsea 7 at its Wick site in Scotland. It was towed out to Block 16/12a in January 2003 and installed during February.

Commenting on the news, Bruce Dingwall, Venture's Chief Executive said:

'Having successfully completed the Larch field redevelopment in 2001, the rejuvenation of the second 'Trees' asset is more than simply a key milestone for Venture. It also sets another North Sea benchmark for the use of existing infrastructure to rehabilitate 'stranded' assets. As well as doubling Venture's current production, the hook-up of Sycamore represents a further powerful example of how effectively North Sea participants can work together to extend field life, increase reserves and increase production. The more projects like Sycamore that get done the better for everyone with an interest in the North Sea.

'Venture's internal project team and their counterparts at Subsea 7 have done an excellent job in delivering the project ahead of schedule and on budget. We look forward to replicating this success across our portfolio of development opportunities.'