BP has acquired stakes in the Jock Scott and Craster high-temperature high-pressure, North Sea exploration prospects, operated by Statoil and Nexen respectively, with exploration wells planned on each mid-2017.
The move comes just days after BP agreed to buy a 10% interest in the Shorouk concession offshore Egypt, containing the super-giant Zohr gas field, for US$375 million.
Jock Scott is to the east of Shetland and operated by Statoil and is a heavy oil prospect. It is in licenses P2275 and P2097, in which BP has acquired a 40% stake. BP has also taken a 40% stake in the nearby P2163 and P2147 licenses.
Craster is west of Shetland, adjacent to BP's huge Clair field. BP has acquired a 40% stake in the north and a 30% interest in the south of the Nexen-operated license P2062 containing Craster.
BP said the North Sea is an important region for the company. Over the next 18 months, the firm plans to participate in up to five exploration wells, in addition to drilling about 50 development wells over the next 3-4 years.
BP North Sea is set to grow UK production to around 200,000 b/d by 2020, with "an exciting set of future investment and renewal options capable of sustaining a material business well into the 2030s," the firm says.
In 2016, BP will still invest around US$1.8 billion of capital investment and $1.6 billion running its operations.
BP is expecting important new oil production from its major projects Quad204 and Clair Ridge in early 2017 and 2018 respectively.
BP is also investing in the reliability and integrity of existing assets through an extensive renewal program.
The Zohr field was discovered by Eni in August 2015; six wells have so far been successfully drilled on the field. The field is in the Mediterranean Sea, about 190km north of Port Said in 1500m water depth.
Thought to be the largest gas discovery made in the Mediterranean, Eni has estimated total gas resources in place in Zohr to be approximately 30 Tcf. The first phase of development of Zohr is now being fast-tracked, with first gas currently expected in late 2017.