The massive investment is designed to give new life to the Andrew Platform, 142 miles (230 kilometres) north-east of Aberdeen. The development will extend its reach into a nearby oilfield called Kinnoull.
Production is expected to start in 2013 and rise to 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day. A barrel is about 40 gallons.
Mobile drilling rigs will tap Kinnoull and a new undersea network will take the oil and associated gas back to the Andrew Platform for piping ashore and then onwards to Teesside for processing, via existing pipelines.
BP estimates that the new construction, and a refurbishment of the Andrew Platform itself, will keep more than 1,000 people busy for two years – meaning job security for a lot of people already in the oil industry and new jobs for some.
A floating hotel, the Borgholm Dolphin, will provide temporary accommodation for about 180 during the construction work, for the rest of this year and all of next.
The platform itself, established in 1996, has a crew of 80 to 90 at a time, so the offshore village will number up to 270 at times.
In Wick, in the far north of Scotland, the Subsea 7 company will assemble and ship sections of a bundle of pipelines which will run for 28 kilometres, connecting the new field to the existing central platform and laying down connections, on the way, for two smaller untapped oil fields which will probably be tied into the complex later.
At the Stourton industrial estate on the edge of Leeds, Cameron Offshore Engineering has been making the seabed “Christmas trees” to which the pipework will connect, in a factory employing about 500 people.
Nobody was available for comment yesterday.
In Aberdeen, JP Kenny and Woodgroup Engineering are expected to complete more than two million man hours of work on the design of the project alone.
In Invergordon, specialist fabricator Isleburn will build the 130-metre riser which connects the platform to the new supply lines on the seabed.
In Newcastle, Duco are producing pipeline and Bel has been commissioned to supply the subsea valves.
In Hartlepool, Heerema will build a new 750-tonne processing module to be installed on the Andrew Platform.
In Bristol, Vetco Gray are manufacturing and testing the undersea control systems for the network.
Kinnoull and the two other reserve deposits are expected to keep the Andrew Area productive until 2020.
The president of BP’s North Sea business, Trevor Garlick, said “The Kinnoull project is a showcase for the outstanding sub-sea expertise that exists within the UK. At its peak the project will create employment for over 1,000 people.”
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “I am pleased to see that BP is taking forward the development of the Kinnoull field.
“With around 90 percent of the development involving UK firms, this is a real big win for our domestic supply chain and shows that the North Sea oil and gas sector continues to deliver economic benefit.
“I hope major global players continue to harness the expertise of UK companies as new developments come forward.”
BP owns 77 per cent of the oil and hardware. An Italian oil company, Eni, owns just under 17 per cent; and a Nigerian company, Summit, has just over six per cent. Costs will be split accordingly.