Construction Begins on New Zealand Gas Site

Work has begun on preparing the Kupe gas project's onshore production station near Hawera and nearshore pipeline approach, operator Origin Energy Resources (Kupe) Ltd reported.

Origin also says its offshore jackup Ensco 107 drilling rig has been further delayed in its arrival from June until September due to extended commitments in Vietnam. The original plan was for the rig to arrive in March.

However the delay would not affect the Kupe project's critical development milestones, the company said. The NZ$980 million project was on time and on budget.

Initial preparatory work had begun at and around the onshore production station including site clearing and road upgrades, Origin said.

Work is also now underway to build a "rock mattress" along the seabed on which the pipeline and umbilical from the platform will later lie.

The rock mattress involves laying rocks along the seabed to smooth out the undulations caused by boulders in the area. The rocks are being taken from a quarry at Egmont Village and will be laid on the seabed floor using a special vessel, the "Pompeii." The rocks will add stability to the two lines, particularly given Taranaki's strong weather and sea conditions.

The two lines will enter two 2.2 km horizontally directionally drilled (HDD) tunnels under the south Taranaki cliffs and up to the production station site a few hundred meters back from the cliff top.

Preparation work for the HDD drilling under the cliffs is underway.

Origin also recently opened a new office in New Plymouth at Energy House, where a number of project staff will be based for the duration of the project. Other project staff will also be located at the construction village, which is being established at the production station site.

Gas from Kupe is planned to be on-line by mid-2009 and will provide New Zealand with approximately 254 petajoules of natural gas, 1.1 million tonnes of LPG and 14.7 million barrels of light oil.

The Kupe partners are operator Origin Energy, with a 50% stake, New Zealand Oil & Gas (15%), Genesis Energy (31%) and Mitsui (4%).

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