Maari Partners Come Down to 2 'Dry-Tree' Platform Options

Engineering studies on final options for the offshore Taranaki Maari oil field development have come down to two "dry-tree" surface concepts with the rejection of sub-sea wellheads, Maari partner Horizon Oil says in its December quarterly report.

The Maari field, situated in 100 m water depth, about 80 km from the Taranaki coast, is the largest undeveloped offshore oil field in New Zealand containing a P50 estimate of 50 million barrels of recoverable oil in the Moki formation.

Horizon says that sub-sea wellheads had been rejected on risk and economic grounds after significant engineering effort.

The surface development concept has been narrowed down to either a jack-up Drilling and Production Unit (DPU) with a Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel; or a minimal facilities wellhead platform with a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel.

The two options are the subject of detailed definition studies at present for Maari operator OMV New Zealand Ltd.

A final concept selection on Maari is to be made about April with the final investment decision around mid-2005.

The subsurface development plan has been finalised with horizontal wells and the completion of detailed studies confirming the design of the waterflood scheme.

The development will include the flexibility to tie-in the Maari M2A level reservoir and the separate Manaia structure nearby to Maari, where the Maui-4 well flowed oil at the time of the original Maui field discovery. Design and construction of the Maari project is planned from mid-2005 with production coming on line in mid 2007.

Meanwhile Cue Energy, which recently moved its base from New Zealand to Melbourne, has bought a 5% stake in PEP 38413 from Delta Oil Taranaki Pty Ltd's (Delta) for A$6.2 million.

Cue has raised a total of A$18 million by private placement of 60 million ordinary A30 cent ordinary shares to help fund development of its share of the Maari field.