HOUSTON, Oct. 7, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO) and its partners announced they have received approval from the Kurdistan Regional Government for the first phase in the oil development of the Atrush block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Atrush-1 discovery well was drilled in 2011, and is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Erbil. The development project will consist of drilling three production wells and constructing a central processing facility. Marathon Oil and its partners expect to achieve first production by early 2015 with an estimated initial gross production of approximately 30,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). The approval of the Field Development Plan for Phase 1 provides for a 25-year production period. Additionally, the Atrush partners are continuing appraisal activities and preparing to drill a fourth well on the block. Subject to the outcome of appraisal drilling and Government approval, a potential Phase 2 development is expected to include another 30,000-bpd production facility. The partners will also evaluate the feasibility of producing associated natural gas for delivery to the domestic market. "Marathon Oil is pleased with the progress that has been made to advance the development of the Atrush discovery," said Mitch Little, Marathon Oil vice president of International and Offshore Production Operations. "Approval of the Atrush Phase 1 Development Plan is an important milestone and confirmation of the significant resource potential that prompted our entry into the region in late 2010." Marathon Oil's wholly owned subsidiary Marathon Oil KDV B.V. holds a 15 percent working interest in the Atrush block. TAQA Atrush B.V., a subsidiary of TAQA, is the operator with a 39.9 percent working interest; ShaMaran Petroleum Corp. holds a 20.1 percent working interest through its wholly owned subsidiary ShaMaran Ventures BV (100 percent owner of General Exploration Partners, Inc.); and the Kurdistan Regional Government holds a 25 percent working interest.