Energy firm Equinor has won permission to start its giant North Sea Johan Sverdrup oil field in autumn, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Sept. 2.

On Aug. 30, the company notified oil market participants that the 2.2-3.2 billion barrel field could begin oil shipments in October, earlier than previously expected.

The first loading program lists 11 cargoes in October, implying output of about 226,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), a trading source said.

Production is expected to hit 440,000 bbl/d in the summer of 2020 and should rise further to 660,000 bbl/d once the second phase comes on stream in late 2022, Equinor has said.

Johan Sverdrup, discovered by Lundin Petroleum in 2010, is the third-largest field off Norway by reserves and is expected to produce oil for the next 40 years, the NPD said.

Equinor and its partners Lundin, Aker BP, Total and Norwegian state-owned Petoro have estimated the first phase of development to cost 83 billion crowns (US$9.3 billion).