Mitsui Takes Interest in Offshore Tui Prospect

Mitsui and Co. Ltd has taken a 12.5% interest in offshore Taranaki permit PEP 38460, which includes the Tui oil discovery made last February. Mitsui said its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mitsui E&P New Zealand Ltd, has signed an agreement to acquire a 7.5% interest in the permit from New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd and a 5.0% interest from NZOG associate company Pan Pacific Petroleum NL.

Mitsui said it believed PEP 38460 was "an oil rich block", with total potential recoverable reserves in excess of 100 million barrels, including approximately 20 million barrels at Tui.

Meanwhile, NZOG said the PEP38460 partners are looking to bring in a leased FPSO to process oil from Tui and the nearby Amokura prospect if next March's wildcat Amokura-1 well proves successful.

In its quarterly report to September, NZOG says Amokura-1, to be drilled only 4km from the Tui prospect, will be the first of perhaps three wells drilled in Taranaki waters for the PEP 38460 partners from next March.

The Diamond Offshore Drilling rig Ocean Bounty, which drilled the Tui-1 discovery well last February, was likely to return to New Zealand waters for the program.

Amokura had the potential to contain 15-35 million barrels of oil and that a discovery, "even at the low end of this range, would trigger a decision to jointly develop Amokura and Tui, with first oil provisionally planned by mid-2005," said the report.

NZOG exploration manager Eric Matthews said the joint venture's plans currently centered around sub-sea completions and using a leased FPSO.

Operator New Zealand Overseas Petroleum Ltd, through its parent company Transworld Exploration and Production, had been looking at a number of proposals involving leased FPSOs.

The second planned well would be Pukeko-1, drilled into the Pukeko prospect, approximately 70 kilometers south of Tui. Drilling is expected in April-May next year.

A third well would depend on results from the Amokura and Pukeko wells, but was likely to be either an appraisal of the Amokura-Pateke complex or drilling of another nearby prospect.