Seismic work to start in New Zealand's Great South basin

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Dec. 3 -- Consortia led by ExxonMobil Corp. and OMV AG are about to begin a new wave of exploration in New Zealand's Great South basin off the southern South Island. Water in the storm-tossed Great South basin is more than 900 m deep.

ExxonMobil and its partner Todd Energy will take delivery of WesternGeco's Western Trident seismic vessel the week of Nov. 26 to begin shooting 960 km of 2D and 1,340 sq km of 3D surveys on PEP 50117. This initial phase of a 27-month exploration campaign on the permit should be completed by February 2008.

ExxonMobil also will reprocess some 1,200 km of existing seismic and complete a range of geological and geophysical studies to determine the oil and gas potential of the virtually virgin acreage.

The initial phase is expected to cost as much as $37 million. If successful, it could lead to a drilling program in 2009-10.

ExxonMobil holds 90% interest in the permit, and Todd holds 10%.

OMV is operator on three new permits—PEPs 50119, 50120, and 50121—with a 36% interest. Other interest holders are Misui Exploration of Japan 36% and PTTEP Offshore Investment Co. of Thailand 28%.

The Discoverer 2 seismic vessel is to begin work for OMV this month. Preparatory work suggests the potential for structures capable of holding many tcf of gas and more than 100 million bbl of oil, OMV said.

Hunt Petroleum attempted to explore the region during 1976-84 and found hydrocarbons in four of eight wildcats, but nothing of commercial size at that time.

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