Todd takes over Taranaki fields from STOS

NEW Zealand’s largest privately owned energy company, Todd Energy, officially takes over the operatorship of the onshore Taranaki McKee-Mangahewa fields from Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) tomorrow.

Although it will be the first time Todd Energy has become an operator of a commercial field, no problems are anticipated because the company has been building up its own level of expertise and enlarging its team for over a year.

Todd Energy managing director Richard Tweedie told he expected the changeover to be seamless with no disruptions to field operations or any personnel changes.

About 20 personnel run both fields from the small McKee production station.

“With the recent geoscience team changes and the recruitment of staff in Taranaki, it’s no big deal,” Tweedie said.

Todd planned further possible upgrades to McKee – New Zealand’s first modern-day commercial crude oil field – and to Mangahewa, including possibly drilling two more appraisal wells in the next year or two into that gas-condensate field, according to Tweedie.

Todd acquired the adjacent McKee-Mangahewa fields in early 2002 as part of Shell New Zealand’s required divestment program to allow the takeover of Fletcher Challenge Energy.

It has since spent over $NZ11 million ($A9.2 million) on gas development and reinjection at the middle-aged McKee field, with the aim of increasing ultimate oil recovery by at least 500,000 barrels of oil and unlocking another 23 billion cubic feet of gas for sale.

According to Crown Minerals, McKee, which when discovered in 1983 was estimated to hold about 50 million bbl of oil, now has only about 2 million bbl of crude and 66 bcf of gas remaining.

Mangahewa, estimated to be a 101 bcf gas field when discovered in 2001, now has less than 42 bcf of gas and 200,000 bbl of condensate.

The Todd operatorship takeover of McKee-Mangahewa is another nail in the coffin of former multi-field operator STOS, an unincorporated organisation holding no equity in any fields and jointly owned by Shell Exploration New Zealand (SENZ) and Todd Energy.

STOS used to operate the Kapuni, Maui, Pohokura and McKee-Mangahewa fields but may soon be left with only the southern onshore Taranaki Kapuni gas field. SENZ became operator of the Pohokura project last month and will do the same with Maui if the High Court sides with Shell and rejects Todd’s arguments.