An application to drill two exploratory wells near Dannevirke has been filed by the North American energy companies TAG Oil and Apache Corp.
The partnership has applied to Horizons regional council and Tararua District Council to drill the wells on private land in Mangahei Rd, Motea, 17 kilometres east of Dannevirke, and at Ngapaeruru Rd, 2km further east.
They have asked the councils to handle the applications as non-notified - without being subject to public hearings.
Consultants working for the partnership said the drilling operations would have "less than minor" effects beyond the people who had given their written approval.
The plan is to drill wells to a depth of about 2km. The application says the drillers are not proposing to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
TAG and Apache have plans to spend up to $100 million in pursuit of a 14-billion-barrel windfall on three sprawling East Coast permit areas covering 680,000 hectares.