French energy giant Total has officially launched a huge new gas project in Britain’s remote Shetland Islands, which cost $5b and that has been hailed by London as a “vote of confidence” in the flagging North Sea oil and gas industry, Yahoo News reported. The development should provide 8% of Britain’s daily gas requirements and opens the potential for further developments in the area.

Total claimed that the plant was Britain’s biggest construction project since the London 2012 Olympics, employing 2,500 people at the peak of construction. It began processing gas from the Laggan-Tormore fields on February and since then it has been ramped up to its full capacity of 500,000cf/d of gas (14,000cm, 90,000boe). The fields are expected to last for about 20 years, according to EurActiv.

Laggan-Tormore is operated by Total with junior partners Denmark-headquartered DONG Energy and British energy company SSE, which each have a 20% interest.

Located in up to 600 metres of water, the five wells tap reservoirs that lie 3,500 to 3,900 metres beneath the sea floor. The gas is treated at the Shetland plant before the processed gas is piped into Britain’s main grid, around 165 km northeast of the Scottish mainland.

Amber Rudd, British Minister for Energy and Climate Change, said that the plant was “creating jobs and providing secure, affordable energy to the UK’s families and businesses for decades to come,” The Telegraph reported. “North Sea oil and gas is crucial to our energy mix. We are committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, unlock new potential and remain competitive for the future,” she added.