Norway's Statoil gives Noble Corp contract worth $655 million to drill in Mariner field

OSLO - Statoil says it has given Noble Corp. the contract to drill the Mariner oil field in a deal estimated at $655 million over four years.

The Norwegian energy company says a new type of rig will enable it to operate at depths of 70 to 150 metres (230-500 feet) and drill wells down to 10,000 metres (32,000 feet).

The announcement was made Tuesday on behalf of Statoil's partners in the field — JX Nippon Exploration and Production (U.K.) Ltd. and Cairn Energy PLC.

The British government approved in February the development of the field, Britain's largest offshore development in over a decade. Statoil expects production to last 30 years starting in 2017, with an estimated initial daily output of 55,000 barrels. It expects to invest $7 billion in the field.