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Source: Environmental Protection Authority

Oil and gas exploration company, Tamarind Taranaki Limited (TTL), holder of the petroleum mining permit and owner of mining equipment for the Tui field, became insolvent in November 2019. Oil production in the Tui field has stopped.

BW Offshore (BWO), the owner of the ship that processes and stores the oil at sea, now wants to remove its ship from the Tui field.  

We, the Environmental Protection Authority, are one of the government agencies with responsibilities related to the Tui field. We are responsible for ensuring that the disconnection of the ship from the Tui field, and the closure of the wells, complies with the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act).

The insolvency of TTL has presented legal and contractual issues around the responsibility for the actions required for the closure of the oil wells, and the timeframes for those actions. In the longer term, the oil wells will be plugged and permanently abandoned.

Update as at 17 March 2020

Receivers are currently seeking to realise the assets of Tamarind Taranaki Limited (TTL). There have been discussions about if and how the crude oil currently stored on the ship could be safely removed. There is no agreement on this yet and this cannot happen until Maritime New Zealand is satisfied the oil can be removed safely. 

When the receivers and liquidators have finished their work, it is likely TTL will be removed from the companies register and cease to exist as a legal entity. At that point, assets of TTL that have no value, or are likely to cost money, will revert to the Crown. Government agencies involved in the oil and gas sector are considering the implications of this. 

Work continues to enable the removal of the ship, which is a Floating Production and Storage Offloading unit, referred to as a FPSO.

Some of the mining equipment, attached to the FPSO, belongs to TTL, and some belongs to the owner of the vessel, BW Offshore (BWO). 

The equipment needs to be removed, or disconnected, before the FPSO can leave, but only with authorisation from the EPA. We are processing two requests from BWO to remove the FPSO from the Tui field by the end of April 2020.

More background information is provided below.