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NZOG shares fall after Momoho-1 decision

Thursday 17th July 2008

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Shares of New Zealand Oil & Gas (NZOG) declined after the company said the Momoho-1 exploration well didn't yield commercial quantities of hydrocarbons.

The stock fell 2.3% to NZ$1.67 on the NZX. It has soared almost 50% this year while the NZX 50 Index slumped 25%. The well, which will be plugged and abandoned, was being closely watched because it is about five kilometers south of Kupe, the nation's largest undeveloped field.

"We would've hoped Momoho was large enough to be standalone," said company spokesman Chris Roberts. Taken together with two nearby wells, there "remains potential that the small accumulations taken together could amount to something worth developing," he said.

NZOG's shares have surged this year, tracking the rising price of crude, as oil flowed from its 12.5% owned Tui oilfield and investors flocked to take up options to buy shares at less than their market price. The stock reached a record NZ$1.86 on July 1.

Crude oil was recently quoted at US$134.60 a barrel and has retreated from the record US$147.27 reached June 11.

Roberts said it is too soon to predict when further exploration may take place.

Australia's Origin Energy owns 50% of the Kupe permit PML38146, with Genesis Energy owning 31% and NZOG 15%. Mitsui E&P Australia owns 4%.

By Jonathan Underhill

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