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Rival Energy - a new arrival

By Neil Ritchie

The recent entry of Rival Energy Services Ltd, a new specialist oil and gas support company, into Taranaki is a sure sign this region’s energy industry is going from strength to strength.

“I first came to New Zealand about three years ago and started working for Canadian listed company TAG Oil, mainly at their wellsites around Taranaki but I also helped supervise the construction of their wellsite east of Dannevirke where the Ngapaeruru-1 well was drilled earlier this year,” says company founder Jack Hampton.

"Spending time at these sites enabled me to identify a shortage of state of the art equipment here, modern equipment that is commonly used in Canada.

“So to fill this niche and to do this business properly I had to separate myself from TAG and I set up Rival Energy Services late last year. It’s a New Zealand registered company, with almost half the small number of employees being Kiwis and the rest Canadians.

“And we believe we are efficient and cost effective, offering our specialist services at competitive rates, to a growing energy industry here in Taranaki and beyond.”

Rival does not drill exploration or development wells but it has a small service rig used for what is known as well completions, completing successful wells for production, as well as helping clean up or repair existing wells, installing tubing, getting rid of formation water and helping perforate, that is punching holes in the sides of wells so hydrocarbons can flow.

It also has a specialist anchor truck, specialist hot oiler truck, specialist storage tanks, as well as a variety of specialist downhole tools.

Below: Rival Energy Services managing director Canadian Jack Hampton, with his company's specialist service rig, at New Zealand Energy Corp's Copper Moki oil field, south of Stratford, where Rival is helping with some downhole repairs.

Rival has already done work, completing new wells or recompleting old ones, at TAG’s Cheal and Sidewinder oil and gas fields. It has also helped repair broken downhole equipment for Canadian junior New Zealand Energy Corp, at its Copper Moki and Waitapu fields, and for UK listed company Kea Petroleum at its Puka find.

He says that from his experience New Zealanders can have confidence in oil and gas activities, from drilling to production. Canadian companies have some of the strictest environmental standards in the world. This relates to preparing wellsites for drilling and later restoring the land afterwards. These standards also apply to the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process pioneered by Canada and now also being used extensively in the United States.

“Canadians, we are the ones who perfected the shallow shale techniques, including horizontal drilling and fracking, enabling oil and gas to safely flow from shallow non-conventional formations.”

While Hampton first came to New Zealand during 2010, his association with Kiwi energy companies stretches back years to when Fletcher Challenge Energy had operations in Asia, New Zealand and Canada. The Calgary man ran Hampton’s Well Field Services company at that time and working for FCE in Alberta helped him develop an affinity for New Zealanders and New Zealand.

With Canada’s energy industry so vast and covering five of the country’s 13 provinces -- British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan – oil and gas workers are used to the Fly In, Fly Out (FIFO) lifestyle. And Rival’s five Canadian staff, including Hampton, continue doing just that – working five or six weeks on then flying back home for some rest and recreation.