Taranaki's veteran Maui gasfield has been given a new lease on life, allowing it to last years longer than originally thought.
Thanks to new-age drilling techniques now being used by the field's operator, Shell Todd Oil Services, numerous pockets of "bypass" gas are being discovered, increasing Maui reserves.
In fact, the drilling is proving so successful that the life of the field has already been extended by at least three years. And with more drilling to come, experts are confident the life can be extended by more than 10 years.
This week the Maui drilling success was officially recognised by being named Energy Project of the Year at the annual Energy Excellence Awards held in Auckland.
A jubilant STOS asset development manager Joanna Breare told the 650 guests at the black-tie event the success is all due to a "can do" attitude by staff involved.
"They believed we could undertake this drilling programme safely, on budget target, and with no harm to the environment," she said.
"That's exactly what has been done. Now we are busy getting another rig out to Maui to continue with more drilling - so watch this space."
So far a total of seven wells have been drilled in the Maui revitalisation project, using a lightweight rig positioned on the Maui A and B production platforms.
The second campaign will see up to another nine wells drilled.
STOS general manager Rob Jager said he was extremely proud of his team's achievement.
"The life of Maui has been extended - incredibly - via existing wells using latest innovative technology and low-impact drilling techniques.
"This gas field has already served New Zealand for more than three decades and this award demonstrates our ongoing commitment to squeezing the last drop from the field."
When it was discovered in 1969, Maui was one of the biggest offshore gas fields in the world. At its peak in the 1990s it met 90 per cent of New Zealand's natural gas demand.
Now in its twilight years it still meets about 20 per cent of demand.
- © Fairfax NZ News