Texas oil giant eyes potential offshore prize

Oil prospects: Drilling for oil off  Marlborough could start within five years, says Anadarko New Zealand corporate affairs manager Alan Seay.
Oil prospects: Drilling for oil off Marlborough could start within five years, says Anadarko New Zealand corporate affairs manager Alan Seay.

The potential for oil exploration around New Zealand is barely understood, Texas oil giant Anadarko says.

Its New Zealand corporate affairs manager, Alan Seay, who was in Blenheim yesterday, said exploration to date "hasn't even scratched the surface".

The comment came in a private meeting of 80 people in which the company outlined its controversial plans to explore three areas, including the Pegasus Basin off the Marlborough and Wairarapa coastlines.

Anadarko won the rights for oil exploration in New Zealand through the Government's oil and gas exploration tender process.

The plans have triggered fierce opposition in Kaikoura, with about 500 people lining the beachfront last month in protest against deep-sea drilling.

The company was a stakeholder in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which exploded, causing an oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Mr Seay used the Blenheim meeting to tell his audience about the potential for the petrol production industry in New Zealand.

Former petroleum geologist Ryan McCarthy, of Blenheim, expressed concern about difficulties in drilling in the Pegasus Basin because of its depth, rough, exposed sea conditions, and its proximity to the continental shelf.

But Mr Seay said the company's extensive survey work would indicate whether oil extraction was viable and safe.

He showed a map outlining the continental shelf, stretching 200 nautical miles off the New Zealand coast, and its vast sedimentary basins, which could contain oil.

"Each of those [sedimentary basins] could contain very, very large petroleum resources and we haven't even started looking yet."

"The size of the prize" was an area almost as large as Australia, he said.

The company plans to start drilling off Taranaki and Canterbury later this year, or in early 2014. It is in the early stages of exploration in the Pegasus Basin, 100 kilometres offshore of south Wairau. It could take up to five years to complete initial surveys of the area, before a decision was made to drill, he said.

The study included a seafloor survey, core samples of the seabed and seismic surveying to prospect for hydrocarbons.


Petrol production is New Zealand's fourth-biggest earner.

High-quality oil worth $1.95 billion is exported each year.

The industry has 3730 direct employees and 4000 indirect employees.

The Government receives $411 million in royalties, including tax.

Industry contributes $2.5b to country's gross domestic product.

The 2011-2021 New Zealand Energy Strategy predicts royalties could increase to more than $12b with new oil discoveries.


An oil exploration and production firm, specialising in deep water.

It produced 2.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent at year's end 2011.

Total assets were $52b at year's end 2011.

Drilling in the United States, China, Africa, Brazil, and New Zealand.

It has had a presence in New Zealand since 2010.