AWE Plans to Drill Nine Wells Offshore New Zealand in 2006

Offshore drilling in New Zealand waters is likely to greatly increased in 2006 with Australian Worldwide Exploration Ltd alone reporting it expects to be involved in up to nine offshore oil wells.

The Sydney-based company told the Sydney Resources Conference that all of the wells AWE currently has planned for 2006 would be in New Zealand waters.

Eight of the wells would be in the west Maui area, including four Tui area oil field production wells and two other exploration wells, Pateke North-1 and Tieke-1, PEP 38460, which is operated by Houston-based Transworld Oil.

All of these wells had rig options secured but joint venture approval is still required.

Another two west Maui wells, Hector-1 in AWE operated PEP 38483 and West Cape-1 in Shell operated PEP 38481, are also planned, though rig options are not yet confirmed.

AWE's other New Zealand well will be the Canterbury basin Barque-1 well in Tap Oil-operated PEP 38259, now likely to be drilled in the first quarter of 2006.

The company also indicated to the Sydney conference that a world-wide shortage of offshore rigs could delay the Tui field coming into production until the first quarter of 2007.

Other offshore wells planned for 2006 include up to six development wells for the Pohokura field, which is due to come into production by mid-2006.

The busiest year for offshore drilling in recent years was 2004 when six wells were drilled. No offshore wells have been announced for 2005.

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