Shell still thinking about drilling basin
Oil giant Shell has less than three months to decide whether to pursue gas exploration in the Great South Basin.
Shell New Zealand corporate communications manager Bridget Abernethy said it must report its decision to the Government by January 10.
"Obviously for a project of this size, there are many factors to be considered. We are hopeful to reach a decision before the end of the year, but certainly before January 10."
Shell told The Southland Times in April that if it decided to drill, the first exploration test drill would go ahead over 40 days between 2014 and 2015.
Ms Abernethy said last week she unable to confirm that.
"The decision to drill an exploration well, and the timing of that drilling programme, is currently being considered by the joint venture."
Ms Abernethy said if drilling went ahead, the amount of gas found would be what directed a decision whether to continue exploration in the Great South Basin.
"If we do decide to drill an exploration well and the amount of gas found is not economically viable to produce, then we will not continue our exploration activities," she said.
Southland Energy Consortium chairman Mark O'Connor said they were cautiously optimistic that Shell would approve the project.
"The indications of gas [in the GSB] are positive," Mr O'Connor said.
The only concern Mr O'Connor had was that potential exploration in the Great South Basin by Shell competed with other projects from around the world that the consortium would be considering.
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