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OMV looking to buy Shell NZ assets

Tom O'Leary Oct 10
OMV looking to buy Shell NZ assets
OMV is already the operator of the Maari field in Taranaki.

New Zealand will benefit from having a single strong operator of the Maui, Pohokura and Maari fields, says Gabriel Selischi, senior vice-president of OMV Australasia.

The Austrian oil and gas producer is already the operator of the Maari field with a 69% share and is awaiting competition, overseas investor and New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals approvals to be granted for its proposal to purchase Shell New Zealand’s remaining assets in the Maui and Pohokura fields which would give it ownership of 93.75 per cent of the Maui field and 74 per cent of Pohokura.

Todd Energy would retain the remaining shares. Gabriel says that a single strong operator would give greater control and help to fully realise these assets.

“We believe there is a strong business case for creating a strong off-shore operator in Taranaki. It would optimise the logistical side of the operation as well as add scale to attract service companies, which can sometimes be challenging due to New Zealand’s remoteness,” he says.

Maari is New Zealand’s largest oil field and at the moment is OMV New Zealand’s most significant asset in New Zealand with more than 35 million barrels of oil produced from the Maari Field since production started in 2009.

Oil is produced at the wellhead platform (Tiro Tiro Moana) and piped to a floating production and storage vessel (FPSO Raroa), anchored 1.5km away. During 2014/15 the Maari Growth development drilling campaign was undertaken using the Ensco 107 jack-up drilling rig.

This campaign added new production and injection wells, drilled from the existing wellhead platform.

There are currently ten production and injection wells on the wellhead platform, including New Zealand’s longest well – an 8 kilometre extended reach well into the Manaia structure.

OMV New Zealand presently has a 26% share in the Pohokura gas field. Pohokura began production in late 2006 and meets about 40% of New Zealand’s gas demand.

Production is processed through the unmanned Pohokura plant, operated by Shell Taranaki Limited. Maui was New Zealand’s largest gas field until 2008.

It meets about 20% of New Zealand’s gas needs. OMV New Zealand presently has a 10% share in Maui. OMV began operating in New Zealand after acquiring a 30% share in the Maari oil field following the purchase of Cultus Petroleum of Australia in 1999.

OMV New Zealand is a subsidiary of OMV Upstream, which is part of the OMV Group, one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies.

With its headquarters in Wellington and the Maari Field Office in New Plymouth, OMV New Zealand employs around 100 staff.

Gabriel says the proposal to purchase a greater share of Pohokura and Maui is a signal of the commitment of OMV New Zealand where it has been operating for around 20 years.

He says over that time OMV has invested over $2b and paid around $1b in taxes and royalties in the past decade. Gabriel says that if the proposed sale goes ahead the New Zealand operation will account for around 10% of OMV’s global production.

Presently this is 20,000 barrel oil equivalent per day (net) production and he expects this to rise closer to 50,000.

“We aim to continue to optimise our operation in New Zealand and maintain production of our existing assets. This will be important for New Zealand and security of supply.” He says that OMV is also actively searching for additional oil and gas resources in New Zealand to meet demand.

OMV New Zealand currently holds interests in seven exploration permits, six as operator in the Taranaki Basin, Pegasus Basin and Great South Basin. In the Taranaki region the company has five exploration permits, all as operator.

An active work programme is underway for these license areas with the intent to grow OMV’s and New Zealand’s reserves through new discoveries in its permit areas.

In 2016 OMV was awarded four new exploration permits in Taranaki. OMV operates one offshore permit in Pegasus Basin, offshore Wairarapa.

Gabriel says that understanding of this relatively unexplored frontier basin will be increased when seismic data acquired in the first half of 2017 has been processed and interpreted. Ongoing geological and geophysical studies will support a drilling decision, which is expected to be made in 2021.

OMV New Zealand has been active in the GSB since 2007 and acquired 19,000 km of 2D seismic data and 4,820 km2 of 3D seismic data in the last 10 years.

OMV’s seismic data is complemented by a comprehensive programme of geological and metocean studies, which has provided valuable information as exploration options are considered.

Gabriel says the long-term vision for OMV is to expand its operations into Southeast Asia.

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