NZ operators hunt for personnel

ORIGIN Energy and OMV– the operators of the offshore Taranaki Kupe gas and Maari oil fields – are beefing up their project teams for their respective New Zealand developments that are due to come onstream in the next 12-24 months.

Origin is advertising for a project manager and commissioning manager for the $NZ980 million ($A870 million) Kupe gas–condensate project.

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OMV is after a senior petroleum engineer, senior exploration geologist, and a health and safety and environment (HSE) representativ for its $US419 million ($A510 million) oil project further south.

Origin says its Kupe project manager will be based in the recently established New Plymouth office, while the commissioning manager will be based initially in Perth but will relocate to New Plymouth in early 2008.

Kupe project director Peter Ashford last month said that Origin had opened the New Plymouth office – in addition to the small Hawera office and construction village for the nearby onshore production station – to house Origin’s management team, as well as that of the main drilling contractor Australian Drilling Associates (ADA).

He said Origin chose New Plymouth so the drilling team could be close to Port Taranaki once the offshore works start. Up to 50 people could be working there next year at the peak of the project.

Ashford also said the first sections of the main gas pipeline had arrived at the New Plymouth port from Italy and had then been delivered to the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) site in south Taranaki.

These 12m-long sections are now being welded together, to be pushed through one of two HDD tunnels, under coastal cliffs, and out 2.2km offshore to the subsea exit points. This part of the pipeline will then be capped, to be attached to the rest of the gas pipeline to the platform, about 30km offshore, from early next year.

The Kupe field holds 2P reserves of 254 petajoules (PJ) of gas, 14.7 million barrels of condensate, and 900,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas. It will supply about 15% of New Zealand’s annual gas needs, of about 150-170PJ, from mid-2009.

The Kupe partners are operator Origin Energy, with a 50% stake, New Zealand Oil & Gas (15%), integrated energy player Genesis Energy (31%) and Mitsui (4%).

OMV New Zealand said the senior petroleum engineer and senior exploration geologist would be based in its Wellington head office, as would the HSE representative, who would also spend time offshore, located on the Raroa floating production storage and offtake (FPSO) vessel and the wellhead platform (WHP).

The FPSO and WHP are scheduled to be installed by March 2008.

OMV NZ is a subsidiary of OMV Aktiengesellschaft, Austria's largest listed company and a leading oil and gas group in central and eastern Europe.

It has been in New Zealand since 2002 and says it is commited to “a long term investment in the region”.

It adds that 2007 will be a defining year in the growth of its New Zealand operations, with the Maari project moving towards production and an active planned exploration drilling program.

In addition to its majority interest in Maari, OMV NZ holds stakes a 10% interest in Maui and a 26% stake in the Pohokura project, as well as interests in another seven offshore exploration permits.

Total 2P Maari reserves are estimated to exceed 50 million barrels (MMbbl) of crude, with another 10-20MMbbl of upside potential.

Initial oil production is expected to be about 35,000 barrels of oil per day from the second quarter of 2008, with production continuing for about 10 years.

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

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