Tem­po­rary stop for Po­hokura gas field

Otago Daily Times - - MARKETPLACE 13 - GAVIN EVANS

PRO­DUC­TION from the off­shore Po­hokura gas field is to be cut for a third time in a year next month.

OMV, which last month took over op­er­a­tion of the field from Shell, plans a range of in­ter­ven­tions in the field’s off­shore wells to ‘‘re­es­tab­lish’’ 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,’’ Gabriel Selis­chi, OMV’s se­nior vice­pres­i­dent for Aus­trala­sia, said.

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 on­shore.

OMV ac­quired Shell’s 48% stake, and its 83.8% in­ter­est in the Maui field, as part of a $US578 mil­lion ($NZ849 mil­lion) deal an­nounced last March and fi­nalised over the Christ­masNew 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 in the South Is­land, and con­cerns about gas sup­plies.

Snow stor­age in Merid­ian En­ergy’s Waitaki catch­ment was about 49% below av­er­age, the firm es­ti­mated on Jan­uary 12. Snow­pack is im­por­tant be­cause it be­comes wa­ter for hy­dro­elec­tric gen­er­a­tion when it melts.

Whole­sale elec­tric­ity cost an av­er­age $157.57/MWh in Auck­land in the seven days ended Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to En­ergy Link data.

Mr 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 would pro­vide reg­u­lar up­dates as op­er­a­tions progress. Other stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing Trans­power, the Gas In­dus­try Com­pany and the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment had 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 halted again in Septem­ber, when the main shut­off valve on the off­shore pro­duc­tion plat­form was not work­ing as it should. — Busi­nessDesk

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