Vienna-headquartered OMV announced in January that it was buying the worldwide assets of Preussag Energie, including Preussag's 35.86% stake in the major near-shore Pohokura gas-condensate field, plus its interests in onshore Taranaki licences PEPS38716, 728 and 744.
At that time OMV said Pohokura and the other exploration interests were of "particular importance" and, together with OMV's existing New Zealand portfolio, should generate "substantial sustained growth".
Even given delays with finalising contractual details between OMV and Preussag owner, Germany's TUI Aktiengesellschaft, the EUR 300 million deal should have been "signed sealed and delivered" by early April at the latest.
The "non-closure" of the sale, coupled with Todd Energy's pre-emptive rights regarding Pohokura, has sparked industry speculation that a deal is being done by Todd and OMV.
Commentators say Todd Energy will want to increase its stake in Pohokura by at least the 3.667% it missed out on last year, when Shell New Zealand sold that stake to Preussag as part of its divestment program to satisfy Commerce Commission concerns regarding Shell's purchase of Fletcher Challenge Energy.
In return Todd might sell some of its 100% holding in the McKee and Mangahewa onshore fields.
Former OMV Australia managing director Wolfgang Zimmer has declined to comment on any possible deal, as has OMV's Dick Stiles, who has responsibility for New Zealand operations.
Todd Energy chief executive Richard Tweedie this week told EnergyReview.Net there was no "equity swap" planned between the two. "What may or may not be happening is not a matter for public consumption, I cannot comment on this sort of thing at this time," he said.
However, commentators are adamant the two companies are negotiating. "I know there is something going on," said one, "but information is rather hard to get.
"The Perth office of OMV handled the Maui and Maari purchases, but Vienna is running the whole Preussag thing."
Meanwhile, OMV is now considered to be too busy for the formally marginal offshore Kupe field.
Zimmer last year told EnergyReview.Net that OMV was not only interested in acquiring an interest in the south Taranaki field, but could also take over as operator.
Present operator and electricity generator Genesis Power has been talking for almost a year about farming out a major slice of its now 81% interest and appointing an operator.
However, commentators are now saying OMV will have more than enough work with its involvements in Pohokura and Maari. "OMV has only done one offshore development and Kupe is still bloody hard.
"Although OMV might seem to be a natural selection for Kupe, any significant purchase would be sure to raise the hackles of the Commerce Commission, given OMV's major status and involvement in new fields."
OMV has made rapid progress in becoming a heavyweight in the New Zealand energy sector.
As well as its planned Preussag purchase, OMV last September bought a 10% stake in the offshore Maui field from Shell NZ, as well as taking Shell's 49% interest in and operatorship of the more southern Maari oil field. It has also taken 25% stakes in the new offshore Taranaki licences PEP 38481 and 482, along with Shell and Todd.