Ballance Goes Upstream with Swift in Search of Gas Supply

Downstream fertilizer company Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd says it will drill for natural gas in Taranaki in 2005 to try to find replacement feedstock for its Kapuni urea manufacturing plant.

Ballance has farmed out to Swift Energy a 60% interest and operatorship of the company's newly-acquired PEP 38742 permit in north central Taranaki, which lies immediately onshore from the Pohokura gas-condensate field. The permit, previously held by Wellington-based Geosphere Exploration Ltd, is also immediately west of Todd Energy's Mangahewa gas field. The PEP 38742 permit area is from Waitara to Motunui where the Pohokura onshore development wells will soon begin drilling.

Ballance said it expects to drill the Karaka-1 well in the permit in the first half of 2005, targeting the shallow Mt. Messenger formation.

Site manager for the ammonia-urea plant Len Houwers said the plant required 7PJ of gas a year as feedstock and it had been hard to secure more gas supplies. Recently Ballance acquired an additional 7PJ of gas from Contract Energy which would ensure supplies until May 2006.