General Engineering
Singapore eyes up Ensco drilling rig

Oil and gas activity continues around New Zealand – from preliminary seismic surveys to exploration and development drilling. Most activity still centres on Taranaki, either onshore or offshore, but some is scheduled near the top and bottom of the country.

The government’s New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals unit has granted Norway’s TGS-Nopec Geophysical company an eight-month petroleum prospecting permit (PPP 56377) to conduct at least one seismic survey over 136,512 square kilometres of the massive offshore frontier Reinga Basin, northwest of the North Island.

And Houston-headquartered Schlumberger Seaco is seeking a similar prospecting permit but at the other end of New Zealand. It has applied for PPP 57031 covering 446,129 square kilometres of the Great South Basin.

Late last year then new country entrant Norwegian giant Statoil was granted a 9818 square kilometre exploration licence PEP 55781 over just a small part of the Reinga Basin. The fact that TGS-Nopec has applied for a much larger prospecting permit indicates that it is probably planning a “multi-client spec survey” where it will hold proprietary rights to all information it gathers – for perhaps 15 years or so – and will be able to sell that data to maybe several explorers.

It is known Statoil has already conducted sea floor surveys as part of its preliminary commitments in its licence, as well its planned acquisition this summer of at least 3500m of 2D seismic data, utilising a TGS-Nopec vessel.

Again, it is likely to be a similar story when Schlumberger is granted its GSB prospecting licence – shooting various seismic surveys, including one for the joint venture headed by Shell Exploration NZ and another for the Woodside Petroleum-New Zealand Oil & Gas consortium.

Meanwhile, off Taranaki, the jack-up Ensco Rig 107 continues its year-long Maari-Manaia development campaign that includes the future drilling of another extended reach Manaia well for field operator Austrian company OMV and its partners Todd Energy and Australian juniors Horizon Oil and Cue Energy Resources.

Further north the semi-submersible rig Kan Tan IV is still drilling the Ruru Prospect in the southeastern corner of the Maui gas field for partners Shell Exploration NZ, Todd Energy and Austrian giant OMV.

The Ruru prospect was believed to be one of the best pockets of bypassed gas so far identified within the Maui mining licence, with natural gas targeted in the Eocene-aged Kapuni Formation, principally the C and D sands, and perhaps the deeper F sands that flowed about 35 million barrels of crude oil from almost 10 years from the mid-1990s.

And the modular offshore drilling unit (MODU) Archer Emerald has been demobilised and taken off the Maui A platform during late October after a largely successful campaign involving four sidetrack wells targeting previously untapped pockets of gas. All these wells were drilled utilising lighter aluminium piping, as opposed to the more traditional steel drill pipe.

There are also unconfirmed rumours that Singapore's Loyz Energy is planning to use the Ensco rig to drill a well in the offshore Awakino-Mokau area though there still are a lot of uncertainties to be worked through during the next 12 months.

And UK-listed junior Kea Petroleum had been due to commit to drill an onshore well in the Awakino-Waikawau area north of New Plymouth, probably to test an onshore-offshore prospect, but has gained government approval to defer that for 12 months.

Meanwhile, land rig owner-operator MB Century is moving Todd’s “Big Ben” rig from the Mangahewa E wellsite back to the Mangahewa D wellsite as part of Todd’s $800 million Mangahewa Expansion Project involving the drilling and horizontal hydraulic fracturing of up to 27 development wells.

And it is believed Todd is also progressing its so-called “MEP2 compression" project at the McKee-Mangahewa production facilities, with earthworks scheduled to start in November.

New Zealand Energy Corp is awaiting the arrival from Houston of a jet pump unit to help it complete its workover of Waihapa-2 well utilising the small Rival Energy workover rig. NZEC’s share of oil production from the Copper Moki, Waitapu and Ngaere fields, plus the Toko-2 well, continues to creep up from an average of 205 barrels per day (bpd) during September to 214 bpd in October. 


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