Company sniffing at West Coast oil deposits

Last updated 05:00 26/07/2012

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Widespread Portfolios will spend a busy few weeks analysing data to help it decide if a hunt for significant oil and gas reserves on its permit near Lake Brunner is worthwhile.

The data will help the oil and gas explorer decide if it should renew an exploration permit, PEP38526, north of Moana and near the historic settlement of Kotuku, which is due to expire on September 7. The permit, about 5 kilometres north of Lake Brunner, was acquired about five years ago by Widespread Portfolios forerunner Widespread Energy.

Director Chris Castle said Canadian firm WorleyParsons had recently completed an electrical resistivity tomography survey and the explorer would spend the next few weeks analysing the survey results.

Measuring the resistivity of hydrocarbon-bearing rocks was one of the most common and sensitive methods applied when searching for commercial quantities of oil and gas.

So far around around $700,000 had been spent on the search.

"What we're hoping is we'll see an accumulation of oil at quite shallow depths, at which we'll then target where we drill . . .

"The formation looks like, if the oil's there, it's only down 250 metres. It's very shallow and relatively inexpensive [to reach]."

Previous owners of the prospect had included Solid Energy and NZ Oil & Gas.

A prospect of drilling was also backed by evidence of surface oil, that had been present for many decades, and a test hole drilled to 90 metres in March-April 2010, showing oil and significant amounts of gas, he said.

"A successful outcome of the electrical resistivity survey combined with re-processing of seismic data would help identify drilling targets. With these potential targets in hand, Widespread would seek to extend the exploration licence and undertake an active drilling programme early in the new term," Castle said.

If it decided it wanted to apply for a permit it would have to put up a suitable work programme to Crown agency, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.

The complex underground field had been disrupted by glacial activity. "What is known is there was a very large oil field there, but it got destroyed by glaciation, so what's left is remnants of that."

Any multimillion-dollar drilling programme could be funded by raising funds from shareholders, farming in new partners or the sale of assets.

Exploration consultant Murry Cave said he had helped Widespread on the March 2010 drilling programme and was also consulting with another company Ocean Harvest International, associated with the West Coast-based Gloriavale Christian Community. The Christian group had an appraisal permit to the south of the Widespread permit, which also followed down the western side of Lake Brunner.

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"They in actual fact have a drilling rig coming into the country, I think it's later this year . . . there's a seismic survey to be undertaken soon to define how big this reservoir is."


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