August 7, 2008

Reserves Upgrade Puts Pohokura in New League

TARANAKI'S Pohokura gasfield has just had its reserves massively upgraded, making it New Zealand's biggest oil producer as well as its second-biggest gas producer.

Figures published in the Economic Development Ministry's latest energy data file show that Pohokura's total gas reserves have been upgraded 24 per cent, while oil reserves have gone up 38 per cent.

Pohokura is operated by 48 per cent owner Shell, which said yesterday it did not publicly comment on reserves information. Todd Energy and OMV own 26 per cent each. The ministry information says Pohokura's total gas reserves are now 978 billion cubic feet, equal to almost 1000 petajoules.

In the past, Pohokura gas was said by industry experts to cost about $6.50 a gigajoule -- about 2.5 times more than the original cheap Maui gas. A petajoule is one million gigajoules, suggesting the Pohokura gas could be worth roughly $6 billion over the decades- long lifetime of the field.

The upgrade means the Pohokura gas reserves are now more than a third those of Maui, which was considered a monster field when discovered in 1969.

The new figures boost New Zealand's total gas reserves by 17 per cent to 2413bcf, including fields yet to come into production.

Pohokura's oil reserves have also been increased, from 44 million barrels to 61.6 million barrels. Based on yesterday's world oil price of about US$118 (NZ$162) a barrel, 61.6 would be worth close to NZ$10 billion.

Total remaining oil reserves in New Zealand rose 12 per cent to 217 million barrels.

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