BP has been granted approval by the Oil and Gas Authority to develop a field in the North Sea that will target 30 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The Vorlich Field, which is about 241 kilometres (150 miles) east of Aberdeen, is expected to come on stream in 2020 and it is predicted it will produce 20,000 barrels gross of oil equivalent a day at its peak.

BP said the £200 million, two-well project is part of a programme that seeks to access important new production from fields located near to established producing infrastructure. BP North Sea Regional President Ariel Flores said: “BP is modernising and transforming the way we work, with a focus on accelerating the pace of delivery of projects like Vorlich.

“Without compromising safety, we want to simplify our processes, reduce costs and improve project cycle time to increase the competitiveness of our North Sea business. This is increasingly important as competition for global investment funds gets stiffer.

He added: “While not on the same scale as our huge Quad 204 and Clair Ridge projects, the Vorlich development provides another exciting addition to our refreshed North Sea portfolio and further demonstrates BP’s commitment to the North Sea.”

However, Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said: “This approval of this new North Sea development by BP is a reckless decision that is incompatible with efforts to tackle climate change. This oil needs to stay under the seabed.

“The world cannot afford to burn even a fraction of the fossil fuels we already have, never mind approving the extraction of millions more barrels of oil.

“The strategy adopted by UK and Scottish Governments of ‘maximising economic recovery’ from the North Sea means maximising climate destruction. They need to work together to end further oil and gas exploration there.”