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maari first well spudded

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    Drilling, seismic underway in NZ after delays

    Neil Ritchie, New Zealand
    Monday, 10 November 2008

    THE Ensco 107 jack-up rig is finally on location at the Maari wellsite off Taranaki, New Zealand, and has spudded the first development well in the formerly $US508 million ($A741 million) project.

    Origin Energy released the rig to Maari operator Austrian firm OMV in early August after it had successfully completed the three development wells in the $NZ1.2 billion ($A1.06 billion) Kupe gas-condensate project.

    However, the sometimes wild weather off Taranaki prevented the start of the Maari drilling campaign on several occasions – firstly as the rig waited near Kupe; following its planned tow to Tasman Bay near the top of the South Island where it was stacked and, it is believed, got stuck in the mud of the sheltered bay; and lastly on its return journey to Taranaki waters.

    It is understood the rig arrived near the already installed Maari wellhead platform late last week and spudded the first well yesterday.

    The delay in starting the eight-well – five oil development wells, plus three water injection wells – drilling campaign is almost certain to increase the final cost of the Maari project by some tens of millions of dollars.

    The Maari partners had initially anticipated production from the first three production wells to start in September, though last month minority partner Cue Energy Resources said first flows were now not expected until late December. By then, oil should start flowing to the nearby floating, production, storage and offtake vessel (FPSO) Raroa, which has been on location for several months.

    The Maari partners are operator OMV New Zealand (69%), Todd Energy (16%), Horizon Oil (10%) and Cue Energy Resources (5%).

    Meanwhile, the Pacific Titan seismic vessel has finally left Port Taranaki, New Plymouth, after an almost two-week delay caused primarily by having to upgrade onboard firefighting equipment.

    The ship had arrived at the port on October 25 for a multi-operator, multi-permit summer 2D seismic program covering 7000 kilometres in the offshore Taranaki, Canterbury, and Great South Basins.

    After a customs clearance, crew change and taking on provisions, it had been scheduled to leave two days later.

    However, upgrading the firefighting equipment, which included getting a replacement pump from Singapore, meant the vessel did not leave port until last Friday.

    The vessel is scheduled to spent up to 3½ months in New Zealand waters on a program that could cost $US9-12 million ($A13-17.5 million), shooting seismic for several joint ventures headed by operators Origin Energy, Australian Worldwide Exploration, New Zealand private company Greymouth Petroleum and United States independent Global Resource Holdings.

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