Origin Energy Outlines Kupe Gas Project Plans

Origin Energy, operator and major equity holder of the Kupe gas-condensate mining license (PML 38146), has outlined proposed developments for the Kupe Gas Project.

Australian-based Origin Energy, which now also holds a controlling 51% interest in a major New Zealand energy company Contact Energy, says the Kupe Gas Project will inject significant investment funds into the Taranaki region and provide employment opportunities during both construction and operation.

Kupe would make a significant contribution towards meeting New Zealand's demand for gas, enhancing the security of supply and competition in New Zealand's energy market. Production of light oil would also be an important development.

Kupe will produce 20 petajoules a year of sales gas and 1.6 million barrels a year of light oil when it comes on stream about the second quarter of 2007.

Origin Energy says the unmanned offshore platform will be located in 35 meters of water, 30km directly south of Ohawe Beach on the southern Taranaki coast. The platform will be a pile driven design, with its four legs driven into the seabed to provide support.

The offshore platform will support up to six production wells extracting the raw natural gas and light oil from the field which will then be transferred through a single subsea and underground pipeline to an onshore production station.

To avoid environmental disturbances when the pipeline crosses the shoreline, a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) program is the preferred option. This will take the pipeline underground from 500 meters north of the coastline, under the beach and cliffs and then up to around 1500 meters offshore where it will connect to the offshore raw gas pipeline.

Origin Energy says its preferred site for a new onshore production station to process the raw gas and light oil is an eight hectare site immediately south of the Kapuni gas-condensate field.

But another production station option is to upgrade and use an existing production station nearby. "The Kupe Joint Venture is currently negotiating with several existing production station operators to use an existing facility." Negotiations would continue until the end of 2004 to determine whether any of these facilities were suitable and commercially available.

A sales gas pipeline would depend on the production station decision. A light oil pipeline is currently not a definite component of the Kupe project though it was a preferred method of exporting the light oil to an existing facility. Until then light oil will be trucked to either the Waihapa or the Kapuni production stations, Origin says.

The Kupe Gas Project team has been established in the town of Hawera, immediately north of the field.