The find was made in partnership with GDF Suez of France, and the UK government said the successful well underlined the benefits that could be achieved if companies worked more closely together.
The new field which BP named Vorlich, after a Scottish mountain, is in the central region of the North Sea and has been tested to show a maximum flow rate of 5,350 barrels a day.
“As BP marks its 50th year in the North Sea and as the industry looks to maximise economic recovery from the basin, increasing exploration activity and finding new ways to collaborate will be critical to realising remaining potential. This discovery is a great example of both,” said Trevor Garlick, regional president of BP North Sea.
Matthew Hancock, the business and energy minister, said the find underlined why the government was working to put in place the right tax and regulatory regime to ensure Britain got the most advantage from domestic oil and gas.
“This discovery shows exactly what can be achieved in the North Sea if companies work together to maximise the considerable potential of remaining oil and gas reserves,” he said.
The amount of oil still to be found and extracted off Britain was a key issue of debate in the recent Scottish referendum. Some Scottish nationalists claimed BP was deliberately withholding information on a key discovery off the Shetlands that could help swing a “yes” vote. The Vorlich find, while significant, is still small by historic standards.
Both companies urged caution about presuming any particular level of recoverable reserves on Vorlich and would not confirm estimates from third parties that there could be 50m barrels in place. Even so that number compares with the billions of barrels that were discovered in the early days of the North Sea on fields such as Forties.
The find spans two blocks, one owned by BP and the other by GDF Suez. Ruud Zoon, managing director of GDF Suez in the UK, described the find as “encouraging” and said it underlined why the company remained committed to drilling in Britain.
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