pounds 580m oil project on cards

Esso Norge, part of the Exxon US oil giant, has put forward plans to the Norwegian government for the $950m (pounds 580m) development of the Jotun field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

The field, 100 miles off the west coast of Norway in 410 feet of water, is expected to start production in 1999, rising to an eventual peak of 80,000 barrels a day. Total recoverable reserves for the three oil reserves is put at 190 million barrels.

Assuming it wins the go-ahead from the Norwegian government, the development will be conducted in partnership with Enterprise Oil of the UK, Norway's Statoil and Conoco and Amerada Hess of the US. Esso Norge will have a working interest of over 40 per cent in the field and will oversee production as operator.

Separately, Esso Norge's parent, Exxon Corporation, announced that discoveries last year had added proven oil and gas reserves of more than 1.1 billion barrels of oil-equivalent, or 108 per cent of production.