Edge of Lake Te Anau included in Govt tenders for oil and gas block exploration
The Government has offered up just over 3600 square kilometres of Southland land stretching up to the edge of Lake Te Anau for oil and gas exploration.
It is part of the Government's annual Block Offer, which tenders out permits in specified areas for petroleum and mineral exploration.
Up to 200 anti-mining protestors made their views known on Wednesday outside a New Plymouth petroleum conference, during which the block offer was announced.
Some 481,735sqkm is available for exploration, most of it offshore. Other blocks are linked to the Northland, Taranaki, Pegasus and the East Coast, Hawkes Bay and the Great South basin off Canterbury.
The Western Southland onshore block starts north of Te Anau and stretches south-east towards Invercargill, with Ohai in the centre. It is considered underexplored.
Exploration blocks are not allowed to include national parks, marine reserves, World Heritage sites or important Maori areas.
Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said the global exploration and production industry was cyclical, and the low number of permits in last year's block offer reflected a downturn in the sector.
But activity in New Zealand and overseas was expected to pick up this year as operator margins improved.
"The Government will continue to ensure we reap the benefits of petroleum and mineral exploration while adhering to strong environmental and health and safety provisions."
Collins said New Zealand's petroleum sector was small by global standards but was a significant contributor to the economy. Oil companies had invested $7.7 billion in exploration and production here between 2011 and 2015 and other parts of the economy had also benefited.
"In order to encourage exploration activity, we need to maintain our reputation as open for investment and a good place to do business."