By Neil Ritchie

SHELL New Zealand became the first upstream organisation to take out the major prize in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards, being named Energy Company of the Year at the 2014 awards held in Auckland during mid-August.

The judges said Shell’s investment in securing New Zealand’s energy future was a key catalyst for its awards success.

“In the past year a robust development program at Maui and Kapuni has paid off, leading to upward reserve revisions and extension of the life of both fields,” said judging panel chairman Richard Westlake.

“The company also secured funding from its global parent for frontier exploration, and has committed to drilling a well in the Great South basin and assessing the prospectivity of the New Caledonia basin.”

Shell New Zealand chairman Rob Jager, of New Plymouth, said winning the award was a real honour and the result of tireless work by employees to realise growth opportunities.

Shell, which employs more than 400 people in Taranaki, has during the past year conducted extensive subsurface studies and drilled development wells at both the offshore Maui and onshore Kapuni gas fields.

As a result proved and probable (2P) remaining reserves at Maui have more than doubled to 466 petajoules (and 13.1 million barrels of condensate), while those at Kapuni have increased to 102PJ (and 3.2mmbbl of condensate).

Shell has also conducted extensive studies of the coastal Pohokura gas field, the country’s biggest gas producer, increasing its 2P reserves to 1017.2PJ and 33.5mmbbl of condensate.

In other award categories, New Plymouth’s pipeline construction specialists Energyworks won the Environmental Excellence award for its innovation in pipe-laying and remediation work, while Methanex New Zealand’s Harvey
Weake was named Energy Executive of the Year.

Energyworks impressed with its comprehensive and careful management of environmental risks during two Taranaki pipeline projects in Taranaki. Hallmarks were the use of heli-stringing, heli-delivery, horizontal drilling and a pipe-flume system that all combined to ensure minimal adverse impacts on the environment.

Mr Weake earned his award for leading the restart of two idled Taranaki methanol trains, striking valuable new gas supply deals and returning Methanex NZ to full production, which has significantly increased methanol exports and underpinned continuing gas developments by Todd Energy and several other players.

Mr Weake, a petrochemical veteran with more than 30 years’ experience in the sector, also led some major capital refurbishments and rebuilt the organisation from 85 employees to the current 230. With all three methanol trains now operating for the first time in 11 years, Methanex is currently looking to expand its workforce further, taking on an additional 30 staff.

At the energy awards, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges praised the industry, saying the calibre of the entries clearly showed innovation and striving for excellence continued to be well and truly alive in the sector.