Category Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands.

Oil and gas exploration opens off North coast

Mike Dinsdale
Friday, November 9, 2012 9:27

The sea off Northland‘s entire west coast has been opened up for oil and gas exploration, something the Government says could pour up to $2 billion a year into the economy and create thousands of jobs in the region.

Energy and Resources Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley yesterday welcomed the Government’s starting the process for awarding oil and gas exploration permits in seven onshore and three offshore blocks around the country. The offshore areas include the Northland/Reinga Basins, which stretch from the entrance to the Manukau Harbour, up Northland’s west coast to above Cape Reinga in the Tasman Sea.

A survey by Crown Research Institute GNS Science found the Reinga Basin could hold the most promising oil and gas fields in New Zealand.

Mr Heatley said the potential benefits could be game changers for Northland: “Down in Taranaki oil and gas industry provides over 5000 jobs and puts $2billion a year into the economy. Taranaki provides a great model of how safe and responsible oil and gas exploration can happily work side by side with primary industry and tourism.

“Oil and gas finds in Northland could be worth even more, and provide just as many jobs as those in the Taranaki because the Reinga Basin has been tagged as one of the most promising fields in New Zealand. But Northlanders will never know for sure until experienced companies are allowed to explore. If they find something, locals can then have an informed debate about whether we allow them to go after it.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had started consulting iwi and councils, and he encouraged iwi and councils to participate. “Their feedback ensures that areas of sensitivity are carefully considered before the areas to be tendered are finalised,” Mr Heatley said. No schedule-four conservation or World Heritage sites would be included in the areas for exploration.

But Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said his iwi was not happy with the proposal and felt any consultation would be a “facade”.

“There’s nothing from the exploration regime that will benefit iwi, other than possibly some jobs in the extraction process. The Government is going ahead without first dealing with the big issue, the customary interest iwi have in this resource,” he said.

“We have a legal opinion saying iwi do have a customary interests in oil and petroleum resources. The Waitangi Tribunal issued a report that recognised that Taranaki iwi have an interest in their petroleum resource, but that has been rejected by the Government.

“So we say we legally have a customary interest there, but the Government is trampling on those interests by ignoring them. It will be a facade consultation.”

He said regardless of what iwi thought, the Government would ignore their concerns if they interfered with its plans. “But we will raise our objections.”

Northland Chamber of Commerce head Tony Collins welcomed the move, saying the region needed the jobs and opportunities exploration could provide. “If you look at Taranaki it’s been a positive thing there and it should be positive for Northland.

“There’s always a balance between risk and reward, but if they use best practice for extraction the chances of anything going wrong are very, very minor,” Mr Collins said.

“This could actually create a lot of opportunities for iwi. They could become involved and use it to help lift the aspirations of their people.”

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New Zealand Energy Announces Production Test for Taranaki Basin Well

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New Zealand Energy Corp. has initiated an extended production test of its Copper Moki-2 (CM-2) well and commenced drilling Copper Moki-3 (CM-3), its third well in the Taranaki Basin of New Zealand’s North Island.

The company has also entered into a farm-in agreement with L&M Energy Limited and will subsequently earn an additional 15% in the Alton Permit, increasing NZEC’s interest to 65%.

The CM-2 well commenced flowing on February 15 and is currently flowing at a rate of 1,000 barrels of oil per day and 820 thousand cubic feet of natural gas per day.

NZEC has commenced drilling CM-3, with the expectation of releasing well results by the end of March 2012. CM-3 will be NZEC’s first well to target the deeper Moki formation, and the company will collect information from both the Urenui and Mt. Messenger formations as CM-3 drilling proceeds. Immediately following the conclusion of CM-3 drilling, NZEC anticipates commencing drilling of the Copper-Moki-4 well from the same drilling pad.

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DOF Subsea’s Skandi Singapore Bags Gig Offshore New Zealand

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DOF Subsea​, a subsidiary of DOF ASA​ advises that it has secured a campaign of work in the New Zealand Taranaki Basin for the new build DSV Skandi Singapore for an undisclosed sum. The vessel will mobilize for New Zealand on completion of the current work program in Indonesia for Conoco Philips.

Work in the Taranaki Basin involves diving and ROV operations for for AWE Limited, Shell Todd Oil Services Limited and Origin Energy. The program of work will be completed in February 2012.

Steve Brown, EVP, Asia Pacific said

“The Skandi Singapore is an ideal vessel for the work in the Taranaki Basin. The vessel is the newest DSV in the DOF Subsea fleet and is equipped for extreme weather operation in environmentally sensitive areas. Since delivery, the Skandi Singapore has proven to be a highly capable vessel and is building an excellent reputation with our regional clients.

With the delivery of new vessels into the region, DOF Subsea continues to build a strong project focused organization based in Perth, Australia and Singapore. With a regional project management and engineering capability based around 220 permanently employed engineers and support staff and the highest quality vessels in the region DOF Subsea continues to pursue growth across all subsea market sectors”

Mons Aase, CEO said that the contract awards in Asia Pacific are great news and that the investment in new assets is positive for further growth in the region.

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Polarcus Alima: First Seismic Vessel to Pass along Northern Sea Route

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Polarcus Limited announced today that the Company’s ultra-modern 12-streamer 3D seismic vessel, POLARCUS ALIMA, has achieved a significant first in the seismic industry, having successfully transited to Asia-Pacific via the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Her passage commenced on 15 September from Hammerfest in Norway after completion of seismic operations in the Barents Sea, taking her on a 3,000 nautical mile route along the northern coast of Russia to Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Straits.

The voyage was completed in just nine days. After passing the Bering Straits on 24 September POLARCUS ALIMA is presently continuing her onward passage to New Zealand to commence operations expected to run for up to 7 months in total. The voyage was made possible in part due to the vessel’s Arctic-ready capabilities, a unique feature of the Polarcus fleet in the seismic industry. Under the Russian Federation’s 1990 Regulations for Navigation on the Seaways of the Northern Sea Route, vessels making the passage are required to hold an ICE-1A or higher ice class.

The expected time savings in transit between Norway and New Zealand compared to the traditional route through the Panama Canal amounts to some eight days. The savings versus the Suez Canal, a necessity for some larger seismic vessels, amounts to thirteen days. The passage via the NSR therefore presents significant time-related benefits for Polarcus and its clients.

This is the first known passage of a 3D seismic vessel along the Northern Sea Route. Preparations for the voyage were carried out in close cooperation with Tschudi Arctic Transit AS through its Russian – Norwegian JV company Arctic Bulk AG, Atomflot, and the Northern Sea Route Administration in Moscow.

Commenting on the successful transit Rolf Rønningen, CEO Polarcus, said: “The successful navigation of Polarcus Alima along the Northern Sea Route has been achieved through the dedication and hard work of our in-house operations personnel, the Northern Sea Route Administration, and our crew onboard the seismic vessel. The result of this outstanding teamwork has been to achieve significant savings in fuel, emissions, and most significantly time during a milestone transit that effectively provides Polarcus a viable new sea bridge between two important operational markets.”

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Papua New Guinea: Beijing’s embrace spreads irresistibly across the Pacific

By Andrew Stone

Twenty years ago, China had four diplomatic posts in the South Pacific.

New Zealand and Australia had 10 each. The United States, the big regional power, had six.

Two decades on, China has more diplomats in the region than New Zealand and Australia combined – a surprise given Beijing only has relations with eight of the 14 Pacific Islands Forum members.

For a newly elected head of government from the region, the first foreign port of call is likely to be the Great Hall of the People, and not Canberra, Washington or the Beehive.

Does this matter? Perhaps less so now that tensions between Taiwan and China have cooled. Previously intense rivalry between the two drove chequebook diplomacy.

Taipei and Beijing spent years wooing small Pacific nations to sign up to their particular China brand. Taiwan got six forum countries on board, but a truce has existed since the election of President Ma Ying-Jeou in 2008.

But even as the political courtship has softened, money in the form of soft loans and grants continues to pour into the region. Beijing has put up cash to lift trade, build schools and bridges, train senior military officers and in the case of Fiji, fence the president’s palace.

China is one of the region’s top three aid donors, after Australia and the US. A study by the Sydney based-Lowy Institute puts its 2009 aid to its recognised forum members at US$209 million (NZ$267m). Australia, the top regional donor, gave US$650 million to the 14 forum countries. New Zealand gave about US$100 million.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks the West needs to be awake to China in the region. Last month she railed against cuts sought by Republicans to the US foreign aid programme, telling senators: “Let’s put aside the humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in. Let’s just talk straight realpolitik. We are in competition with China.”

She noted a “huge energy find” in Papua New Guinea by the oil giant Exxon Mobil, which has begun drilling for natural gas. Clinton said China was jockeying for influence in the region and seeing how it could “come in behind us and come in under us”.

She claimed China had taken the leaders of small Pacific nations to Beijing and “wined them and dined them”. “We have a lot of support in the Pacific Ocean region. A lot of those small countries have voted with us in the United Nations, they are stalwart American allies, they embrace our values.”

Foreign policy expert Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley of Auckland University agrees.

“I would call the impact of China mildly disruptive,” he says.

Beijing did not consult countries with a history in the region, and its investments could seem out of kilter with small island needs.

Adds Hoadley: “They can be a little bit corrupt, they often engage in under-the-table favours. That’s why the leaders in the Pacific Islands are very happy to have these shonky projects, they get VIP trips to Beijing, they may get other things though that is unconfirmed.”

He says the Chinese Government was not necessarily culpable, though it might be negligent in that it sub-contracted work to companies which used inferior supplies, cut corners, ignored the local workforce and left behind projects of dubious value.

“A lot more consultation would be welcome,” suggests Hoadley.

But does China have any discernable workplan to displace the traditional Western players in the region for its own national security?

China has been part of the region for more than 150 years. Thousands of indentured labourers worked in plantations and phosphate mines in the 19th century, becoming the ancestors of the small but often successful Chinese communities in most Pacific Island states.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully does not see any “unwholesome motives” in China’s Pacific strategy. He argues the equation is quite simple. Pacific states have minerals, timber and fish – and China is a hungry buyer.

He told a high level gathering of China watchers last week in Wellington: “China is simply doing in our neighbourhood what it is doing in every neighbourhood around the globe: undertaking a level of engagement designed to secure access to resources on a scale that will meet its future needs, and establishing a presence through which it can make its other interests clear.”

But McCully wants Beijing – and Taipei – to be more transparent with the money they shower on island states and has urged China to ensure its loans do not burden small nations with debt.

Political scientist Jian Yang, who has book coming out about China’s strategy in the Pacific, expects Beijing’s influence in the region to grow, along with other major players including Japan, India and the US.

New Zealand, he argues, has historic, cultural and economic ties to the region which are not easily replaced.

“What is crucial is for New Zealand to continue its dialogue with China and the other powers.”

So far, concludes Yang, New Zealand has done well.

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