Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own

INDEPENDENT explorer Greymouth Petroleum has unveiled the first New Zealand-made drilling rig in over a century and announced the establishment of a home-grown drilling school in Taranaki.
Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own Greymouth tackles NZ rig shortage by building its own

The Auckland-headquartered company showed off the completed and tested NZ$1.5 million Greymouth Rig #1 – nicknamed the Orange Toughy – at a special function held at the Ngatoro-3 wellsite south of New Plymouth yesterday.

Greymouth chairman Mark Dunphy said the New Zealand exploration & production industry could be frustrating as it was often difficult and expensive to get drilling and associated equipment.

"So it’s great news to now have our own drilling rig,” he said.

Dunphy said the genesis of Rig #1 was when chief operating officer John Sturgess saw an old imported fire engine on the Auckland motorways at a time when he had been thinking of purchasing a truck for the company’s oilfield operations.

"He rang me to say he had just seen their first drilling rig, an old fire engine, on the motorway but that it would need some work done on it . . . and we’re here now to celebrate John’s ability to perceive that you can do these sorts of things.”

The Orange Toughy – a variation of the “Orange Roughy” name initially given to the Parker Rig 252 when Petrocorp imported it disassembled, but with an orange derrick, many years ago – was built at Greymouth’s New Plymouth workshops the past year.

Greymouth and other local engineering firms stripped the NZ$20,000 Japanese fire engine of its equipment, converted it into a truck, then transformed the long extension fire ladder into the new rig's collapsible and extendable drilling derrick.

The rig has been rated by the American Petroleum Institute to pull 180,000 pounds in accordance with API specifications and certified in compliance with API standards.

Trial operations have included the drilling of the shallow Tiwakawaka-1 well in the rugged eastern Taranaki licence PEP 38739 late last year, the completion for production testing of Ngatoro-12, and a workover at Ngatoro-4. The rig is about to start a well workover at Ngatoro-3.

Greymouth said Rig #1 would be available for hire to other explorers when the company was not using it.

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