Ensign International New Zealand operations manager Ed Milne told EnergyReview.net this morning that the disassembled Rig 41 – the biggest land-based rig yet to operate in New Zealand – would leave Port Taranaki tomorrow bound for Sriracha, Thailand.
The rig is due to work for at least two years in Thailand for US company Amerada Hess and a Mitsui subsidiary, Siam Moeco.
The big rig was imported from Indonesia in March 2005 for the deviated onshore-offshore development program of the possible $NZ1 billion ($A843 million) Pohokura project.
The rig, which has a 60m derrick, set several records for the length of wells drilled in New Zealand during its campaign for Pohokura partners Shell Exploration New Zealand, Todd Energy and Austrian firm OMV.
The Pohokura-1 and 2 wells both exceeded 6500m in total length, surpassing the old record of 5661m set by a development well drilled in the Shell Exploration NZ-Todd Energy owned onshore Kapuni gas field in south Taranaki several years ago.
The last Pohokura deviation, Pohokura-3, was drilled to a total along-hole length of 7409m, according to Milne.
“The Pohokura project was a very, very successful operation for us and for Pohokura operator Shell Exploration New Zealand,” he said.
“There were no lost-time incidents during the 12 months that Rig 41 was drilling from the Motunui coastal site.”
When the rig first arrived in Taranaki, Milne said he expected other joint ventures to use the rig after it had finished its Pohokura campaign, but this failed to eventuate.
“Although there was some interest expressed by other parties, in today’s tight worldwide exploration environment we just could not afford to have this rig idle,” he said.
“So we signed the Thai contracts, a country where we have not been before, and I am looking forward to working there for the next two, perhaps four, years.”
The departure of Rig 41 would leave Ensign with only Rig 19 and the smaller workover Rig 6 in New Zealand, following last week’s departure from Tauranga of Rig 28, which was destined for Libya. Rig 28 had been on an extended geothermal drilling program for Auckland-headquartered electricity player Mighty River Power.