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Opening of Swift Energy’s Rimu Production Station

21 June, 2002 Hon Paul Swain Speech Notes

Opening of Swift Energy’s Rimu Production Station

Good morning. I’d like to congratulate Swift Energy on opening its Rimu Production Station.

The Government is pleased that the Rimu discovery has reached the point where it is producing oil and gas. Not only does it mean that the company is now getting a return from its investment but it also means that there are new permanent jobs here in south Taranaki. And through royalties and taxes the Government will also be getting a return on the investment it has made in encouraging Swift Energy and other companies to come to New Zealand.

It is worth remembering that a resource left in the ground has no value. It takes companies like Swift with new ideas and concepts about the geology beneath us, to risk their money to reveal the worth of the oil and gas in the Rimu field and bring deposits to fruition.

We should also note that before the well can flow and this plant can operate, there has been a long-term investment by the company and the government. Crown Minerals officials promoting New Zealand as a place to explore, first had discussions with Swift Energy people at a time when Swift had decided to venture outside the US to look for oil.

The company was obviously taken enough by Taranaki’s prospects to take part in the 1995 permitting round. It was successful in winning exploration rights over a permit area that looked a bit like the map of Texas — that is, if you can imagine the coastline down below as the Rio Grande, Patea as Galveston, and Hawera as Houston!

Swift did its homework. They participated in one well and then selected a site to drill their first well as a permit operator near Mokoia. Its partners were Marabella Enterprises and Antrim Energy. With good judgement and good luck oil was found at Swift’s first Rimu-A1 well in 1999.

Rimu was the beginning of Swift’s decision to increase its investment in New Zealand.

For the size of the company Swift Energy has had a considerable impact on the exploration industry here. As the American magazine Oil and Gas Investor said in its April cover story on New Zealand: “No independent has made a bigger splash in New Zealand than Houston’s Swift Energy.”

It has been quite a splash. Swift has drilled a total of 11 wells and sidetrack wells over the past two and a half years; has taken interests in other Taranaki permits; and has bought the TAWN fields; and built this production station.

This level of investment by Swift has been a vote of confidence in New Zealand as an exploration destination.

And now it is moving on to further explore the neighbouring Kauri prospect and other prospects to the north and east of Hawera.

The Government is trying to persuade other oil companies to follow Swift Energy’s lead in investing in exploration here. I can commend the company for the way it has maintained relationships with a wide range of people and organisations including local government, iwi, industry and government during the time it has been in New Zealand. This is a people business based around oil, rather than a oil business based around people.

Good news from the Rimu and Pohokura discoveries has helped to encourage more exploration in New Zealand. A total of $153 million was spent in 2001 on petroleum exploration activity by some 53 companies in 59 different permit areas.

This rise in interest has been maintained and is demonstrated by the number and level of bids received for the recent Onshore and Nearshore Taranaki bidding round. With the Maui field now in decline, New Zealand needs to find more gas and more oil. More explorers like Swift Energy and more investment is needed to help meet New Zealand’s future energy needs.

I congratulate Swift and wish it all the best in its future endeavours.

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