Tui Project: decommissioning the Tui oil field
The NZ Government has commenced work to manage the Tui oil field assets and plan for decommissioning of its wells in the wake of the financial problems affecting the permit operator Tamarind Taranaki Ltd.
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Phase 3 of the project – the plugging and abandoning of wells – is currently underway. Houston-based Helix Energy Solutions has been contracted to undertake the work and their specialist Heavy Well Intervention vessel, the Q7000, arrived in New Zealand waters on 16 May.
The work involves re-entering wells on the seafloor and then positioning cement plugs about 3,000 metres below the surface. It is the most substantive part of the decommissioning of Tui, and is expected to take about 3 months to complete.
MBIE has also recently signed a contract with Sapura Projects Pty Ltd to remove the mid-water arches, using a vessel with a 250-tonne active heave compensated crane. This work is a residual task from Phase 2 and is scheduled to be carried out in summer 2023/24. Removing the four mid-water arches will be the final step in the Tui Decommissioning Project.
The decommissioning process
The decommissioning of the Tui field is being conducted in 3 phases; the demobilisation of the FPSO Umuroa coupled with works to ensure that the subsea assets are left safe and secure (completed in May 2021), removal of the subsea infrastructure (substantially completed July 2022) and plugging and abandonment of the wells (underway).
Each of these phases of work has required detailed planning and environmental approvals. The final part of the project is scheduled to be carried out next summer.
Treaty partners and stakeholders
The Crown is committed to continued meaningful engagement and consultation with Te Kāhui o Taranaki (Taranaki Iwi) and other Treaty partners throughout the entire decommissioning process.
The decommissioning of the Tui Oil Field entails the removal of the subsea infrastructure and the plugging and abandonment of the wells. Te Kāhui o Taranaki (Taranaki Iwi) continue their involvement with a particular interest in the work being completed as planned in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Stakeholders, including the oil and gas industry, service companies, local government, non-government organisations and other interested parties are kept informed of developments and consulted where applicable.
Contracts and recruitment
At the outset of the Tui Project, MBIE did not have experience in the decommissioning of offshore petroleum assets so it needed to procure external technical advice to perform this role. To guide the work, an MBIE Project Team was created, which includes a number of staff who are very experienced in the oil and gas sector.
For information on appointments and contracts:
The Government has amended the Crown Minerals Act 1991 in the wake of the issues affecting Tamarind Taranaki and its ability to fund the decommissioning of the Tui oil field.
The amendment, enacted in December 2021, imposes statutory obligation on all current and future petroleum permit and licence holders to decommission their wells and infrastructure.
It also enables the regulator to periodically assess permit and licence holders’ financial capability to meet their decommissioning obligations, requires permit and licence holders to maintain adequate financial security for decommissioning purposes, requires permit and licence holders to make a financial contribution towards any post-decommissioning work, expands enforcement powers and makes other minor changes.
Crown Minerals (Decommissioning and Other Matters) Amendment Bill(external link) — New Zealand Parliament website
Tamarind Taranaki Ltd (in receivership and liquidation)
Tamarind Taranaki Ltd – permit operator of the Tui oil field – was placed in receivership and liquidation in December 2019.
Its parent company, Tamarind Resources Private Limited (Singapore) went into receivership in March 2020 and into liquidation in April 2020.
The Crown is an unsecured creditor in respect of Tamarind Taranaki Ltd (TTL).
The liquidators of the Tamarind companies have disclaimed the Tui assets to the Crown, but the petroleum mining permit currently remains with the liquidators.
Documents related to the Tui Project are available here:
Cabinet Paper - The Crown's Approach to Decommissioning the Tui Oil Field(external link)
For more information on the Tui decommissioning process please email firstname.lastname@example.org