New technology has made it profitable to extend production from Statoil's Lufeng field in the South China Sea until 2008, rather than shutting it down in February 2005, as originally planned.
Statoil has found a way to keep the field onstream until August, when theMunin production ship is due to move to another assignment.
"While the ship is away, we intend to carry out sidetrack drilling," Roald Riise, vice president for development and production in International Exploration & Production, said. "This technology, which wasn't available when we first developed the field, allows us to tap new pockets of oil that would otherwise be beyond our reach."
Planning for the three sidetracks will start immediately, with drilling set to begin in the autumn.
The drilling team comprises personnel both from Statoil and from its license partner, the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC).
Lufeng is producing 6,000 b/d. After the sidetracks have been drilled, this output is expected to exceed 10,000 b/d.
More than 32 MMbbl have been recovered from the field, well above forecasts when production began in December 1997 that total output would be about 25 MMbbl.
Statoil has a 75 % interest in Lufeng, and CNOOC holds the remaining 25%.