Long queue for big rig

NEW Zealand explorers are lining up to use the OD&E Rig 41 after it finishes its year-long Pohokura gas drilling campaign next year.
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OD&E 41 - the biggest land-based oil and gas exploration rig to operate in New Zealand - was imported from Indonesia to Taranaki in March.

It has started the first of four wells – a water reinjection well and three development wells – for the Pohokura project.

The wells, which could cost up to NZ$10 million each, are being drilled from a coastal site at Motunui next to the mothballed Methanex twin-train methanol complex, but deviated up to six kilometres under the seabed to optimise gas recovery and wastewater disposal.

OD&E area operations manager Ed Milne said Rig 41 – which has a 60-metre derrick and can drill wells as long as 6100m – had already attracted the interest of several other explorers active in New Zealand.

“I reckon there could easily be another year’s work for the rig here in Taranaki and there is also the potential for it to be dismantled and taken to the South Island for perhaps several wells during 2007,” Milne said.

He would not say which companies have approached him. But it is common industry knowledge that Swift Energy, Austral Pacific Energy, Bridge Petroleum, Greymouth Petroleum, Roc Oil and maybe even Todd Energy could all use Rig 41 for wildcat or development wells in various fields and permits around Taranaki, principally targeting Eocene-aged deep gas.

Shallower exploration activity was also very active in Taranaki, with OD & E’s smaller Rig 19 due to complete at least seven shallower wells for various joint ventures during the next few months, Milne said.