OMV Confirms Operatorship of Kupe Field

OMV Petroleum Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the large Austrian-based oil and gas group, has confirmed its interest in taking over as operator of the undeveloped Kupe gas-condensate field offshore south Taranaki.

In mid-November OMV Australia Pty Ltd managing director Wolfgang Zimmer said his company was looking forward to increasing its presence in New Zealand, either by further exploration or by acquisitions such as Kupe.

He said OMV was actively looking to get involved in Kupe and had been talking with present PML 38146 operator Genesis Power. OMV was interested in becoming operator, though it had not yet done a full technical review of the gas-condensate field.

OMV did not want to underestimate the technical risk of the Kupe field, which was discovered 16 years ago but is not yet developed. However, two things made OMV hopeful that the marginal field — which has proven reserves of about 260 petajoules of gas and 15 million barrels of liquids — would prove economic to develop within the next few years. These were the technological improvements of the past decade or so, plus the likelihood of increasing wholesale gas prices once the Maui field ran out.

Earlier this year Genesis Power chief executive Murray Jackson said Genesis (which holds a 70% stake in Kupe) was talking to a number of companies about them taking over as Kupe operator and that Genesis was hopeful a field development plan could be started in 2004.

Dr. Zimmer said OMV Petroleum's recent purchases of interests in the offshore Maui and Maari fields, plus its stake with Shell New Zealand and Todd Energy in two new offshore blocks, should enable it to become a significant player in New Zealand. OMV now holds 10% of the Maui field and 79% of the Maari permit, PEP 38413.

OMV was confident the marginal Maari oil field would be developed, given a favorable result from the Maari-2 appraisal well, which was due to be spudded in late December by the semi-submersible Diamond Offshore's Ocean Bounty.

As the new operator of Maari, OMV would soon be opening an office in New Plymouth for the Maari-2 drilling campaign.