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UpstreamOnline: Shell’s wells add life to JIAaui field

Sources say that infill programme offshore New Zealand was success

RUSSELL SEARANCKE
Wellington
8 September 2006

A TWO-well infill drilling pro¬gramme that cost at least NZ$40 million ($26 million) on Shell’s ageing Maui field off New Zealand was a success with the wells due on stream in the near future.

The Ihi and East of Ihi wells are tight holes, but sources said Shell was happy with the results. The Ihi well had pre-drill potential of about 300 billion cubic feet of gas, said sources.

In 2002, a 4D seismic survey was shot to identify potential areas of bypassed gas at the 27-year-old field off Taranaki. Both wells were drilled from the 20,000-tonne Maui A platform by Nabors Industries’ platform rig OM 175, which was a newbuild, and the fourth of Nabors’ MODS series.

The platform rig was larger than its three predecessors with a horsepower rating of up to 2500 hp.

The Maui A platform had to be strengthened and modified to accommodate the Nabors rig, which carried out long-reach drilling into untapped pockets of gas.

The Ihi and East of Ihi wells reached total depth on 19 April and 26 May, respectively; and were completed in July.

Rig OM 175 has since been relocated to Australia where it will work on one of ExxonMobil’s platforms in Bass Strait.

Sources said Shell may carry out more drilling at Maui if Ihi and East of Ihi perform well.

In 2004, Shell and its Maui partners renegotiated the Maui gas supply contract and that gave them the right to sell at market rates any additional volumes of gas produced beyond the existing supply contract.

With gas prices in New Zealand now at an all-time high, all explorers have a commercial incentive in a country that is still desperate to avoid a potential gas supply crunch.
Methanol giant Methanex unexpectedly restarted its 530,000 tonne per year Waitara Valley methanol plant in Taranaki last month. Methanex did not reveal which New Zealand field it had sourced feed-tock gas from, but said the operation of its plant was dependant on methanol industry supply and demand dynamics “and the availability of natural gas on commercially acceptable terms”.

Maui is owned by operator Shell (83.75%), Todd (6.25%) and OMV (10%). It had initial reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic feet of gas and 202 million barrels of oil.
 

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