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Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk has approved a $1-billion U.S. investment in the Golden Eagle Area, one of the largest oil discoveries in the U.K. North Sea in recent years.

The group's oil division, Maersk Oil said in a statement on Friday that its estimated share of reserves was expected to be around 45 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The company holds a 31.56 per cent non-operated interest in the Golden Eagle Area which is operated by Canada's sixth-largest independent oil producer Nexen Inc.

"The approval of the field development plan is an important step towards getting production going in the Golden Eagle Area," said Martin Pedersen, managing director of Maersk Oil U.K.

"The area is home to one of the largest discoveries in the U.K. North Sea in recent years, and we are pleased to be partners in such a promising field development," Mr. Pedersen said.

The Golden Eagle Area comprises the Golden Eagle and Peregrine fields operated by Nexen with Maersk Oil, Canada's biggest oil and gas company Suncor Energy Inc. , and Edinburgh Oil and Gas as partners.

Subject to partner and regulatory approvals, construction of a platform and other infrastructure would begin in November this year, Maersk Oil said.

The first oil was expected in 2014 with initial production rates at between 60,000 to 65,000 barrels of oil a day, of which Maersk Oil's share was expected to be 19,000 to 21,000 barrels per day.

Maersk Oil has exploration and production activities on five continents and produces about 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Nexen has estimated the Golden Eagle Area contains 140 to 150 million barrels of oil equivalent in gross recoverable contingent resources, making it one of the largest oil discoveries in the UK North Sea in recent years.

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