London — Royal Dutch Shell approved its second North Sea project in six months, greenlighting a natural gas field that it considered uneconomical to produce from six years ago. The Anglo-Dutch major, along with partner Exxon Mobil, plans to produce from two wells in the Fram field in the central North Sea by 2020. Deep cost cuts following crude’s decline and connecting smaller oil and gas pools to bigger projects are allowing Shell and other drillers to squeeze more out of their North Sea assets. "When your back’s to the wall, you’ve got to respond," Steve Phimister, head of Shell’s UK exploration and production unit, said in Aberdeen, Scotland. "We’ve come a heck of a long way, but I still see a lot more we can be doing." Shell, which abandoned Fram’s gas and condensate resources earlier this decade after determining the field was not big enough to be commercially viable, is finding a way to turn the project, and the region, into a money maker. The company may take several more dec...

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