Drilling rig towed to gas field off Taranaki

BILL MOORE
Last updated 12:00 29/03/2014
Dockwise Talisman
HEAVY DUTY: The Dockwise Talisman with the drilling rig Ensco-107 on its deck after arriving in Admiralty Bay near French Pass.

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The drilling rig delivered to Admiralty Bay in the Marlborough Sounds on Wednesday was blessed by iwi before being taken under tow to its destination off Taranaki.

The Ensco-107, a jack-up rig, was carried from Singapore on the heavy lift semi-submersible ship Dockwise Talisman before being floated off and handed over to three tugs.

The tow to the Maari field took around 18 hours before the rig was ready for its final approach to the set-up position for moving alongside the Maari wellhead platform. Yesterday afternoon it was waiting for the right weather conditions to make the final approach.

The rig was brought to New Zealand by OMV New Zealand and its Maari joint venture partners.

OMV New Zealand managing director Peter Zeilinger said the Maari Growth project would access untapped oil accumulations within the permit area, and better drain the existing oil reservoirs.

"This should help stabilise the natural production decline we are seeing at the field and allow us to continue production at Maari for at least another 10 years."

The five-well drilling programme is expected to run well into next year with more than 250 onshore and offshore people involved. It is planned to begin next month.

Mr Zeilinger said the project was part of a $400 million-plus joint venture investment programme aimed at improving the recovery from the Maari and Manaia reservoirs, and to find and appraise near-field opportunities.

"While the Maari Growth programme is separate from our exploration and appraisal programme with the Kan Tan IV, together they represent a considerable commitment to development in the Taranaki Basin in particular and in New Zealand in general," he said.

OMV NZ, the country's largest liquid hydrocarbon producer and third-largest gas producer, is a subsidiary of Austria's largest listed company, OMV Group.

It has a 69 per cent share of the Maari joint venture. The other shareholders are Todd Maari (16 per cent), Horizon Oil International (10 per cent) and Cue Taranaki Pty (5 per cent).

It has been active here since 1999 when it acquired shares in the Maari oil discovery which it now operates.

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