“The life of Māui has been extended ‐ incredibly ‐ via existing wells using the latest innovative technology and low impact drilling techniques. This natural gas field has already served New Zealand for more than three decades and this award demonstrates our ongoing commitment to leaving no stone unturned in squeezing the last drop from the field and delivering energy that sustains the country in a safe and environmentally responsible way. I’d also like to acknowledge the Taranaki community for their consistent support since construction of the field began, back in the 1970s.”
Shell New Zealand own 83.75% of the Maui natural gas field.
Seven years ago the Shell Todd team had a hunch and a belief there might be more natural gas hiding in what was once a giant field and by 2011 due to ingenuity, courage and a “can do attitude” the team had not only found ways to safely and economically target where they thought the natural gas was trapped, but also managed to successfully unlock and produce this gas from the reservoir through existing facilities.
In 2006 the team was convinced by data from the latest 3D and 4D computer modeling that there was natural gas within the field that had been by‐passed in the usual extraction process. The trouble was these pockets were likely to be relatively small, difficult and costly to drill and their existence could only be definitively verified by actually drilling into them. So any means of extracting these potential volumes would be tricky and would have to be achieved in an extremely cost effective manner.
The team worked through several models before deciding that the best approach was to re‐enter the existing wells and drill horizontally, using precise geosteering, creating what is known as “slim hole sidetracks”. This was achieved using a very small hydraulic workover unit, with enhanced capabilities, that was just able to be fitted onto the Māui platform.
“We had hints that there was more natural gas to be found in Māui but in this business nothing is certain. So we developed the processes and technology to extract it via existing wells” says Rob Jager. “Lateral thinking, flexibility and frankly having the courage to back the uncertain, has led to a great result for us and for New Zealand.”
When it was discovered in 1969 Māui was one of the largest offshore natural gas fields in the world, and it ushered in the dawn of a new era of electricity production for New Zealand.
Stretching over one hundred and fifty square kilometres and lying three thousand metres below the sea floor, tapping this asset off the rugged Taranaki coast was never going to be simple. But by 1979 Māui was a producing field and at its peak in the 1990s met 90% of this country’s domestic natural gas demand. Now in its twilight years it still meets about 20% of domestic demand.
The demand for energy is growing in New Zealand, as kiwis continue to switch on the light and enjoy hot showers. Alongside alternative energy sources, unlocking more natural gas can make a significant contribution to the country’s economic future and the security of electricity supply, particularly when renewable hydro and wind generation isn’t available.
The Māui natural gas field:
Owned: Shell 83.75%, OMV NZ 10%, Todd Energy 6.25%
Operator: Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS): Shell 50%, Todd Energy 50%.