UPDATE 1-Lundin, Statoil new oil find bodes well for Sverdrup
* Sverdrup field largest oil find made in N.Sea for decades
* Result of Lundin well is "best ever" -partner Maersk
* Lundin well "encouraging" -analyst (Adds Maersk, analyst, background)
OSLO/COPENHAGEN, March 27 (Reuters) - Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum and Norway's Statoil have hit oil while drilling test wells at the giant Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea, an encouraging sign for the evaluation of its contents.
Johan Sverdrup is the largest oil field discovered in the North Sea for decades and its development one of the most expensive industrial projects ever undertaken in Norway.
The field may contain up to 2.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent which, if confirmed, would make it the third-largest oil discovery made off the Nordic country.
Lundin Petroleum found a 54-metre column of which 13 metres were of very good reservoir quality, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said in a statement. Partner Maersk Oil said the well test was "the best ever".
"This reduces the uncertainty in the subsurface," said Morten Jeppesen, Managing Director for Maersk Oil Norway, a unit of Danish shipping giant Maersk.
"(It) gives the partnership a better foundation to make decisions on where the next development phase on Johan Sverdrup should be," he said in a statement.
In another section of the field, which spreads over three production licenses, Statoil encountered a 4.5 metre oil column at a prospect called Geitungen. The company will now drill another well to evaluate the section further.
The Lundin well was positive, said an analyst. "We believe this is an encouraging data point," Swedbank's Teodor Sveen Nilsen wrote in a note to clients.
But the result of the Statoil well, he said, was not expected to have ay impact on the field's resource estimate.
The other partners in Sverdrup are Norway's Det norske and state-holding firm Petoro.
At 1141 GMT, shares in Statoil traded 0.7 percent higher while Det norske's were up by 1 percent, Lundin's rose by 0.1 percent and Maersk's were 0.2 percent higher. By comparison, the Nordic benchmark index. traded at 0.5 percent lower for the day.
Production at Sverdrup is expected to start in 2019 at an initial cost estimated at 100 billion to 120 billion crowns ($16.4 billion-$19.7 billion). (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo and Ole Mikkelsen in Copenhagen, editing by William Hardy)
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