Gas leak halts drilling at well

Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013

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Drilling of the Kahili-2 well, east of Inglewood, had to be stopped after it was discovered that the Kahili-1 well was leaking a small amount of gas to the surface.

Kahili-1, which was drilled by previous owners, ran dry in 2004.

New drilling at Kahili-2 was stopped until the leak was fixed for safety reasons, a statement from owners L&M Energy said yesterday.

"A programme was developed to secure the well, which involved initially injecting a brine solution to halt the leak followed by cementing to provide a permanent solution. The remediation work was successfully completed in mid-January and planning for the drilling operation has recommenced."

Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said the gas leak was a concerning and raises questions about well integrity and the current process for monitoring wells once oil and gas production has stopped.

"As the number of wells in Taranaki increases rapidly, we must remember that the safety and environmental risks they pose last for decades.

"We must be sure that monitoring of decommissioned wells is robust. The gas leak at Kahili is proof that we can't take a hands-off approach to oil and gas regulation."

The regulatory authority for well integrity was the Department of Labour, which now comes under the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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