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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TWMA, a leader in integrated drilling waste management and environmental solutions, has recently launched its U.S. expansion with the opening of the company’s newest manufacturing base in Houston. The new facility will allow TWMA to manufacture American-made equipment and meet growing demand for its services in the United States and around the world.
“This new office has the potential to change the dynamics of the entire company,” said Ian Nicolson, TWMA’s Vice President of the Americas. “We’re bringing a whole new range of services and technologies to the U.S. oil and gas industry. We can save operators $30 to $40 thousand dollars per well by handling and treating their drilling wastes with our specialized waste management solutions.”
Demand for TWMA’s waste management solutions is booming. The company has already won several U.S. contracts with oil and gas operators, which has helped fuel the expansion.
Operating both offshore and onshore, TWMA handles and treats drill cuttings and associated oil industry wastes. Using state-of-the-art technology, drilling wastes are recovered, recycled and reused, recovering significant operator costs whilst minimizing environmental impact.
While initial plans focus primarily on expanding in the U.S. market, having a Houston-based facility will allow TWMA to extend its reach into Canada and South America, Nicolson said.
Through the Houston office, TWMA will increase the production capability for its entire range of waste management solutions to service the U.S and international markets. This will include the TCC RotoTruck and TCC RotoMill, which are currently utilized globally to thermally process drilling wastes onshore and offshore, and supporting equipment including vacuum systems, dryers and TWMA’s cuttings collection and distribution system (CCDS).
TWMA has been operational in the United States since 2008, but the new Houston facility will be the company’s first regional manufacturing site. Currently, 20 employees have been hired to work at the new facility. TWMA expects to triple this number by July and plans to have 200 to 300 employees hired in the next 24 months.
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Expro has made a significant financial investment to create a world-class base for its experienced team in Ghana, highlighting its commitment to the area and demonstrating a determination to meet the needs of the market.
Expro currently operates in Takoradi with teams working on the Tullow Oil Jubilee contract, supplying deepwater electro-hydraulic subsea services, well testing and a range of other services. Expro has been involved with Tullow in Ghana from the exploration & appraisal phase of Jubilee through to the fast-track development phase.
The new site allows all project activity, including deepwater subsea tools, well testing, clean-up, sampling and PVT (pressure, volume, temperature) services, to be co-ordinated and monitored from a fully integrated facility. The bespoke 8,000m2 facility, which houses extensive workshop and office space, has been developed around ‘modular concepts’ which provide efficient work areas and can expand with greater ease, as future operations in the region dictate. This impressive site has also been designed with minimising the potential impact on the environment in mind.
West Africa has been a major focus for Expro in recent years with a number of significant contracts secured. Almost 700 people are currently working across Expro’s Southern & West Africa region, and the company is continuing to invest in people, technology and infrastructure to position itself for growth opportunities.
SWA Region Director Brett Lestrange: “Having a permanent operational base in Ghana will ensure we can offer the most efficient and effective service, as well as continuing to develop our presence in the challenging subsea deepwater environments. The Jubilee contract is an important part of our future plans in the region, and Expro’s capabilities in all aspects of well flow management mean we are well positioned as Ghana develops through 2011 and beyond.”
Recruiting and developing a local workforce plays an important part in Expro’s business in Ghana, with the company taking pride in its approach to continuing to develop a nationalised workforce. The new operational base incorporates training facilities to ensure the workforce receive the training they need to benefit them personally as well as benefiting the business.
Mr Lestrange said: “We have high expectations for the new facility. Its opening, combined with the expertise of our people and our latest technology developments, will allow us to continue to deliver to the highest standards for our customers at this exciting period for the region.”