Pohokura to be Developed from a Single Offshore Platform

The Pohokura gas-condensate field, New Zealand's largest petroleum development since Maui, will be developed from a single offshore platform plus three onshore development wells accessing the southern portion of the field.

Paul Zealand, general manager of Shell Todd Oil Services Ltd said that design work had resulted in the ability to develop the reserves from a single offshore platform 8 km from the Taranaki coast, rather than the multiple platforms earlier envisaged.

He said the development northeast of New Plymouth would now have six wells drilled offshore by a jack-up rig tied to the unmanned platform, a 12-inch gas pipeline plus service lines to shore.

The first of the three wells from onshore will be drilled next year with a large rig which STOS will bring in on contract.

The other parts of the project include an onshore processing plant at Motunui, earthworks for which are now underway, a gas export pipeline which ties in to the Maui line at Bertrand Road, and a 34 km condensate pipeline to the Westgate port at New Plymouth for export of liquids.

The project details follow the green light given to the approximately $900 million development with Shell New Zealand's announcement of the signing off of the final investment decision for Pohokura. First gas is expected to flow in mid-2006.

Shell New Zealand exploration and production commercial manager Ajit Bansal, in announcing the Pohokura go-ahead, said his company is very aware that Pohokura needs to be up and running in a timely manner.

Mr. Zealand said that tenders for the larger construction contracts, together with both on and offshore drilling facilities, have been received by STOS. Announcement of the successful tenderers is expected during September 2004.

The work plans and construction manning levels are dependent upon award of the contracts, most of which will be let on a competitive basis.

But he gave an approximate timetable of construction activity. Mr. Zealand said activity at the various work sites and particularly at the onshore production station will increase early in 2005 as onshore construction and drilling commence. Onshore pipeline construction is scheduled for early 2005.

Offshore activity will start in the third quarter of 2005 and this level of activity will continue until first gas in mid-2006.

He said a mining permit application for Pohokura will be lodged with Crown Minerals in the next week or so.

STOS operates the Pohokura project on behalf of Shell (which holds a 48% stake), OMV (26%) and Todd Energy (26%).