A big drillship, a semi-submersible and a jack-up rig have all now been confirmed for what will be extremely busy exploration drilling off Taranaki next summer.
The latest confirmation is from Austrian explorer OMV, which yesterday announced the jack-up rig Ensco 107 will be coming for a multi-well drilling campaign in the Maari field.
It will arrive during in the last three months of this year and stay in Taranaki waters for at least nine months.
It's a return to familiar territory for the Ensco 107, which drilled the Maari field's original production wells.
And when it starts start drilling here, it may be in sight of another rig, the Kan Tan IV semi- submersible, which will also be working under contract to OMV.
It will be drilling in deeper water in a neighbouring licence area, targeting a couple of prospects called Matuku and Whio.
OMV New Zealand managing director Peter Zeilinger said his company was committed to further developing the producing Maari oilfield, and securing the Ensco 107 rig was a positive step towards that.
"This multi-well programme at Maari will run in parallel to the floating drilling programme using the Kan Tan IV we announced late last year," he said.
"Together, these separate campaigns will form the cornerstone of our investment programme to further develop existing reserves and find and tap new resources in the wider Taranaki basin."
The big semi-submersible has also been contracted to drill wells in the nearby Tui offshore oilfield for Australian company AWE.
It will drill an infill development well called Pateke-4H, which AWE estimates could increase Tui field recovery by more than two million barrels.
The rig will also drill an exploration well into the Oi prospect 13 km to the northeast of the Tui field, which is estimated to have the potential to hold up to 11 million barrels of recoverable oil.
AWE managing director Bruce Clement said the infill drilling project would enhance the life of the Tui field.
"Tui has been a valuable production asset for AWE, and on current projections will continue to produce through to late 2020.
The Kan Tan IV is also a familiar sight in Taranaki.
It was last here in 2010 to drill exploration wells for AWE and Origin Energy.
Meanwhile, preparations are progressing for the arrival later this year of the third rig - the big drillship Noble Bob Douglas.
An ultra-deepwater vessel capable of drilling water depths of up to 3600 metres, it will target a prospect called Romney for American explorer Anadarko.
Technical presentations on the size and capabilities of this brand- new drillship were held in New Plymouth last week.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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