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Shell gets 1st gas from New Zealand's Pohokura Field

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its partners in New Zealand's NZ$1 billion ($630 million) Pohokura gas project have produced the first fuel from the field. Gas began flowing from the three completed onshore wells through the production station at Motonui, near New Plymouth earlier this month. The field, which is the second largest in New Zealand, is expected to produce around 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day at its peak.  “This is a significant step in the journey to deliver gas to meet New Zealand’s energy needs and we are particularly proud of the role that Shell’s technology played in helping us deliver this milestone,” Dominique Gardy, Executive Vice President, Exploration and Production, Asia Pacific, said. "Pohokura is one of the key projects Shell has coming on-stream before the end of 2008, adding to its integrated gas production,” he added. Commissioning of the production station will continue over the coming weeks,” spokeswoman Jacqueline Baker said in statement e-mailed to Bloomberg. “Offshore, the platform installation is underway, with the six offshore wells expected to come on stream over the coming year.” Pohokura, owned by Shell, OMV AG, and Wellington-based Todd Energy Ltd., is the country's second-largest gas field and was developed to replace the declining Maui field. OMV New Zealand has 26% and Todd Pohokura Ltd 26% of the venture. This field may hold as much as 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, of which 700 billion may be recoverable, Shell and its partners said when the project was approved in 2004. Initial production is coming from three wells drilled from onshore. The project's offshore platform is being constructed about 9 kilometers (6 miles) off Taranaki on the west coast of the country's North Island. Electricity generators Contact Energy Ltd. and Genesis Power Ltd. and gas distributor Vector Ltd. have contracted to take the first portion of Pohokura's gas. The initial wells may need to flow for six to nine months before the partners will know if more gas is available, Shell New Zealand Chairman Ajit Bansal said in a March 5 interview. Commissioning of the production station will continue over the coming weeks in preparation for commercial gas sales, whilst offshore the platform installation is underway, with the six offshore wells expected to come on stream over the coming year. Natural gas from Pohokura will be fed into the North Island gas network and the condensate will be piped to storage tanks at Omata near New Plymouth for shipping to refineries. (Bloomberg, shell.com)