By Gavin Evans
Jan. 14 (BusinessDesk) - Production from the offshore Pohokura gas field is to be cut for a third time in a year next
OMV, which last month became operator of the field from Shell, plans a range of interventions in the field’s offshore
wells to “re-establish” the deliverability from those assets.
The work means that, for safety reasons, production from the five offshore wells will be stopped for about 30 days – 12
days in February and a further 18 days during the rest of the campaign.
“We anticipate that the onshore wells will be available to flow during this campaign, with no impact on onshore
production levels,” said Gabriel Selischi, OMV’s senior vice-president for Australasia.
Pohokura, now owned by OMV and Todd Energy, is the country’s biggest gas producer. The field, off the coast of Waitara,
typically delivers more than 70 petajoules of gas annually from five offshore wells and three wells drilled from
OMV acquired Shell’s 48 percent stake, and its 83.8 percent interest in the Maui field, as part of a US$578 million
purchase announced last March and finalised over the Christmas-New Year break.
In recent years Pohokura has met about a third of the country’s gas demand.
The latest shutdown is likely to be bad news for power prices which soared in October when repair work at the field
coincided with declining South Island lake levels and other generation outages.
Despite reduced demand, wholesale electricity prices have remained high so far this year due to a combination of low
wind generation, planned maintenance shutdowns, declining snowpack on the South Island, and concerns about gas supplies.
Snow storage in Meridian Energy’s Waitaki catchment was about 49 percent below average, the firm estimated on Jan. 12.
Snowpack is important because it becomes water for hydro-electric generation when it melts.
Wholesale electricity cost an average $157.57/MWh in Auckland in the seven days ended Friday, according to Energy Link
Selischi said the exact duration and timing of the offshore shutdown periods will be subject to operational requirements
and the weather.
The work schedule and the anticipated impact on gas availability has been provided to customers and OMV will provide
regular updates as operations progress. Other stakeholders, including Transpower, the Gas Industry Company and the
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have also been advised of the campaign, he said.
Early last year production from Pohokura’s offshore wells was halted while Shell investigated leaks in the field’s
pipeline to shore. Production was again halted in September when the main shut-off valve on the offshore production
platform wasn’t working as it should.