Contact Energy announced that the BR-50A well at Ohaaki geothermal field, the first well in New Zealand being drilled using aerated techniques, has been plugged and abandoned due to drilling difficulties.Ohaaki, New Zealand – June 16, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The well was initially drilled as BR-50 in March 2002 but was suspended in April 2002 due to technical problems. After mobilizing aerated drilling equipment from overseas, drilling on BR-50A restarted in May 2003. The well successfully drilled through unstable strata to its target casing depth of 1050 meters. However, hole conditions deteriorated and this prevented the installation of protective casing to finish the well. “The Ohaaki station is designed to operate at 104 MW, but has not been able to sustain that level of output because the steam flow from the associated geothermal field has been lower than was expected at the time the plant was built in the 1980s,” Contact’s Chief Executive, Stephen Barrett said. “To enhance electricity production at Ohaaki, Contact began a program last year of drilling new wells to lift the station’s output.” Barrett also said that drilling wells to tap the deep resource was both more expensive and technically challenging than extraction from the shallow geothermal reservoir.