BW Offshore has signed a deal with Ithaca Energy and its partners to use the floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) BW Carmen.

The vessel will be employed on the Athena oil field in the UK sector of the North Sea and is expected to start production in mid-2011, BW Offshore said.

Under the agreement, BW Offshore will perform a front-end engineering design study for Ithaca Energy, which is expected to be concluded within the second quarter of 2010 along with the final contract negotiations.

The FPSO will be upgraded with field specific equipment, including a submerged turret production buoy, which will be delivered from the advanced production and loading division.

The 1994-built Carmen was converted to an FPSO in 1999.

The three-year contract has options to be extended throughout the life of the oil field.

The Athena Joint Venture Partners are Ithaca Energy, Dyas, EWE and Zeus Petroleum.