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New Zealand Energy Spuds Waitapu-1 Well, Appoints Operations Manager

New Zealand Energy Corp. (CVE:NZ)(OTCQX:NZERF) said today that it has started drilling the Waitapu-1 well - the first of an anticipated eight wells to be drilled by the end of the year.

The company also said it has appointed mechanical engineer James Watchorn to operations manager as it expands its in-country team in New Zealand.

The Waitapu site is located around 1.3 kilometres south of the company's Copper Moki site in in the Taranaki Basin of New Zealand.

The Waitapu-1 well has a target depth of 2,172 metres and is expected to drill through the Mt. Messenger formation.

The oil and gas producer is permitting a number of new drill pads as it advances toward its goal of drilling eight conventional wells by year-end, and increasing production to 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Last month, the company said that continuous production begun at its Copper Moki-3 well on its 100 per cent-owned Eltham permit in the Taranaki Basin of New Zealand's North Island.

The company also noted that its Copper Moki gas pipeline is complete and tied in to the Waihapa Production Station, with the operator finalizing arrangements to receive the gas.

The company also completed production testing of Copper Moki-4, its first Urenui formation well. The well is producing 29 degrees API oil, with a higher pour point than Mt. Messenger oil, New Zealand Energy said, and with characteristics similar to Urenui oil being produced from third-party wells in the immediate area.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand-focused oil and natural gas producer said that its Copper Moki-1 and Copper Moki-2 wells continue to flow from natural reservoir pressure, with a total of more than 132,000 barrels of oil produced to date.

Continuous production from the Copper Moki-1 well, along with the 16-day flow test from the Copper Moki-2 well, generated positive cash flow of $4.5 million during the first quarter, based on a realized netback averaging approximately US$90 per barrel of oil sold.

The company's property portfolio collectively covers two million acres of conventional and unconventional prospects in the Taranaki Basin and East Coast Basin of New Zealand's North Island.

Separately, James Watchorn joined New Zealand Energy as operations manager at the end of July, bringing more than 15 years of technical experience in oilfield operations. He has worked for a number of oil and gas companies in both North America and New Zealand, most recently as senior petroleum engineer for Origin Energy and production and facilities manager for TAG Oil.

As operations manager, Watchorn will focus on upstream operations, to design and execute the company's exploration and production strategy.