(Adds plans for drilling rigs, production data for first 9-mo of 2016)
OSLO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Norway’s oil and energy ministry has approved a hike in the 2016 oil output quota of the North Sea Troll field to 46.5 million barrels from 41.7 million, giving it the highest output level since 2009, documents obtained by Reuters showed on Friday.
Field operator Statoil requested an increase on behalf of the license partners in September, and the ministry granted it on Nov. 4, a letter from the ministry showed.
Troll produced 33.2 million barrels of oil during the first nine months of 2016, according to data from Norway’s Petroleum Directorate.
The field is a major supplier of natural gas to Europe, and the permitted oil output is tightly regulated to prevent a drop in output from the gas reservoir.
Other partners in the field are Norway’s state-owned Petoro, Shell, Total and ConocoPhillips.
Separately, the ministry has approved Statoil’s request to reduce the number of drilling rigs working on wells at the Troll field to three from four in 2017.
Statoil has said it would still be able to do the same amount of drilling work as in 2015 and 2016 due to increased efficiency.
The company was not immediately available to comment on Troll output levels in 2017. (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik)