British oil giant BP and its partners have won government approval for a major £4.5-billion oil field investment near the Shetland Islands in northern Scotland, the group announced on Thursday.
"The UK Government today granted BP and its partners -- Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron -- approval to proceed with the £4.5-billion ($7.0-billion, 5.1-billion-euro) Clair Ridge project, the second phase of development of the giant Clair field," BP said in a statement.
The four companies plan to invest almost £10 billion into four oil and gas projects that will come on stream over the next five years as BP seeks to maintain its North Sea production for decades to come.
"I am delighted to give the go-ahead for this project; this investment is great news for Aberdeen and the country and provides a massive boost for jobs and growth," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in the statement.
"It shows the confidence that there is to invest in the North Sea -- we have cutting edge technology, world class skills and expertise and a UK Government that is committed to do what we can to secure future investment."
BP's total share of investment in the four projects will be £4.0 billion.
The Clair Ridge development, west of the Shetland Islands, will involve the construction of two new platforms that will be installed in 2015 and are expected to start production in 2016.
The facility will have the capability to produce about 640 million barrels of oil over a period of 40 years, with peak output reaching up to 120,000 barrels per day.
"Although it began over 40 years ago, the story of the North Sea oil industry has a long way yet to run," BP chief executive Bob Dudley said.
"BP has produced some five billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent so far from the region and we believe we have the potential for over three billion more."
The four BP-operated projects will generate about 3,000 oil and gas supply jobs and provide work for the existing 3,500 staff at BP's North Sea operations.
"After some years of decline, we now see the potential to maintain our production from the North Sea at around 200,000-250,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day until 2030," said Dudley.
"And we are working on projects that will take production from some of our largest fields out towards 2050."