New Zealand Posts Significant Gains In Offshore Oil Drilling: Maari Oil Field Set To Double Capacity

By @diplomatist10 on
Oil drills are pictured in the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, California November 9, 2014.
IN PHOTO: Oil drills are pictured in the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, California November 9, 2014. Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

New Zealand Government has expressed satisfaction that its largest oil field is giving sustained good results. The oil field had Austrian energy company, OMV’s substantial long-term investment. The Maari field started production in 2009 and the investor is planning to double the production after having produced a total 15 million barrels so far.

Thus OMV will drill more wells in the Maari field and invest around $500 million in the coming months. The Maari field is located in a water depth of 328 feet or 100 meters, some 80 kilometers off the Taranaki coast. OMV New Zealand has a total of 11 wells there as a combination of production and water-injection.

"The National government's hard work has delivered significant levels of exploration activity," Energy Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement. He added that the Government has a long term view of the petroleum sector and even with the current low global oil prices New Zealand will continue to be an attractive option for those wanting to invest. Reiterating the government’s vision to attract more energy investors, he said the “government remains committed to developing our oil, gas and mineral resources in a sensible, safe and environmentally responsible way.” Oil is the fourth-largest export commodity of New Zealand earning NZ$700 million each year by way of royalties and taxes.

Costly Production

OMV said production in the Maari oil field, which is in western New Zealand has been costly because of its distance from the shore and the water depth factor. Subsea technology enabled its field production six years ago. According to the government, the oil reserves already in production have a latent capacity of 149 million barrels.

The Austrian firm started drilling in Maari field in April 2014 and utilised the jackup ENSCO-107 after an extensive re-fit and full bio security cleaning in Singapore. “Redeveloping a producing, mature field is never an easy task,” noted OMV New Zealand's Managing Director Peter Zeilinger. He said the team has delivered an outstanding safety record no time was lost in injury on the platforms.

The ENSCO-107 drilling rig is currently preparing to demobilise from the Maari field and the time frame will depend on a suitable weather window.  According to OMV sources, Maari’s field production capacity has declined over the last ix years from the peak of 40,000 barrels of oil per day to a quarter of the maximum rates. But it is hoping that once the final well is tied to the infrastructure, field capacity will reach 20,000 barrels a day and exceed pre Maari growth capacity.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)