By Neil Ritchie
“There are wonderful opportunities out there for New Zealand and New Zealanders, with good jobs, good facilities and good financial returns,” says port chief executive Roy Weaver.
“With good infrastructure at ports to assist the oil and gas industry, we will get our livelihood from the sea, and not just from fishing.
“That’s the mindset we have to have, as well as the best technology, skills, health and safety, and regulatory framework available.”
He says the past few months have been particularly busy for Port Taranaki, with a wide variety of visits by various vessels associated with the oil and gas sector – from the return of the Noble Discoverer drillship and the sophisticated seismic survey ship Polarcus Alima, to the technically advanced dive support vessel Skandi Singapore and several anchor handling tugs.
The Noble Discoverer returned from Queensland, where it had been for vessel certification, to safely complete the plug and abandonment procedure for the Ruru-1 exploration well, on the southeast edge of the Maui gas field, after it was forced to abruptly suspend the well during last April’s storm. It is due to leave New Zealand waters in early March to resume an exploration campaign in Alaska for Royal Dutch Shell.
The Polarcus Alima, one of the newest and largest seismic vessels in the world, berthed briefly again at the port, after completing a three dimensional (3D) seismic survey in the Deepwater Taranaki Basin, before heading south more sophisticated 3D surveys in the Great South Basin off Otago and Southland.
The Skandi Singapore, one of the newest and most technically advanced dive support vessels in the world, arrived in New Zealand waters in January for three short-term assignments on three different offshore Taranaki oil and gas projects, the Tui oil and Pohokura and Kupe gas fields.
“These two vessels are the new face of offshore exploration, absolutely astounding vessels with new levels of technological expertise, that are helping pinpoint new oil and gas fields and also helping extract additional reserves, in far greater percentage terms, from existing fields,”
As well, Port Taranaki has six offshore supply/support vessels working out of the port, doing a wide variety of tasks, from helping with tanker loading operations at the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels at the Tui and Maari oil fields, to assisting with subsea pipeline inspections and maintenance.
“It’s clear that next summer, and hopefully plenty of summers after that, will see even greater offshore exploration efforts, along with some further developments of existing offshore infrastructure.”
“It’s also clear that these offshore vessels are getting larger, longer and more sophisticated and that places a real onus on Port Taranaki to stay as up to date as possible.”
“But I firmly believe the 21st century will be New Zealand’s for offshore oil and gas exploration and development and we should grasp these opportunities,” concludes Weaver.