Ensco 107 Wraps Up Drilling, Prepares to Set Sail from Maari

The ENSCO 107 jackup rig is being readied for departure from New Zealand today following the completion of its work on the Maari oil field project.

"It is very satisfying to get to this point. We are now able to fully concentrate on the production phase of Maari without interruption from drilling activities," said OMV New Zealand Managing Director Wayne Kirk.

The rig was towed from Taranaki to Admiralty Bay near Nelson over the weekend. This morning, starting at 0800 hours, it will be floated on to the specialist heavy transport vessel the MV Target before being transported to Singapore. The dramatic manouevre involves the ship partially submerging to allow the rig to be towed into place onto its deck, before resurfacing and lifting the rig, rather like a dry dock.

"This is an important milestone for us as it marks the formal completion of the Maari drilling campaign which began in November 2008."

Over five million barrels of oil have been extracted from Maari since production began in February 2009, making it the country's largest oil field and OMV the largest liquid hydrocarbons producer in New Zealand.

A workover unit is now being installed on the Maari wellhead platform -- a small drilling rig- like structure which will allow repairs and maintenance of the Maari wells to be undertaken when needed.

"Once the unit is operational in the first quarter of next year our activities at Maari will be centerd on the floating production offshore and storage vessel, the Raroa, which is anchored 1.5km from the Maari wellhead platform."

The vessel, which has a rotating crew of 27, receives Maari oil from the wellhead platform via subsea flow lines.

The ENSCO rig initially drilled eight wells at Maari -- five production wells and three water injection wells. This was supplemented by drilling two further wells at Maari, the M2A well and the Manaia-1 well into the nearby Manaia structure located south west of Maari. The Manaia-1 well is the longest ever drilled in New Zealand at a distance of nearly eight kilometers or eight times the length of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Both wells are expected to begin production in the first quarter of next year.

"This additional oil gives us added confidence that we can keep producing from Maari over the next 10 to 15 years."

Latest trade figures show oil is New Zealand's fifth largest export ahead of seafood and wine, totaling $1.7 billion in the 12 months to September 2009. Maari oil now accounts for the bulk of this as volumes from the nearby Tui Field are declining.

"This has been a challenging few years for the project and it’s a tribute to our staff, contractors and partners that Maari is a resounding success and one that is bringing great benefits to New Zealand," said Kirk.

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