Oil firms Shell UK and Esso Exploration are to take over the lease for Maersk's Curlew floating production storage and offtake vessel (FPSO) for at least three years from September in a £200million deal.
It will continue to be used on the Curlew field, 130 miles south-east of Aberdeen in the central North Sea, once it completes operations for Canadian Natural Resources International.
The FPSO currently processes oil and gas from both Curlew and CNRI's Kyle field. But Kyle hydrocarbon processing is shifting to CNRI's Banff FPSO.
Shell said the new contract has the potential to extend the life of the Curlew D field for a further 10 years if oil prices remained high, as well as allow future production from undeveloped resources nearby.
Curlew D produces about 3,600 barrels of oil a day, a significant drop on peak output of 32,000 bpd in 1999.
Shell Exploration and Production's European technical director Kieron McFadyen said: "We are very pleased to have finalised the deal with Maersk, which is an example of true cross-industry co-operation.
"The construct of the deal provides a hub for continued economic production and a development route for resources in the area including third-party production.
"This is a good deal for the Curlew joint-venture and a good deal for the industry. It not only underlines our commitment to the core area of the North Sea, but as a result of this investment and recent technical work, the nearby discoveries Curlew A and C have been re-evaluated."
Maersk Contractors UK managing director Finn Rosner said: "The new contract for Curlew is very important to Maersk.
"It continues the extensive business relations we have had with Shell in the UK for many years and it provides a solid basis for the continuing development of our floating production business segment.
"More than 100 onshore and offshore staff will support the FPSO. The extensive negotiations for this contract have resulted in a well-balanced agreement that facilitates the tie-in of further development fields to the Maersk Curlew."
Source: The Press & Journal