Govt awards 10 exploration permits

JAMES WEIR
Last updated 13:01 11/12/2012

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Oil companies are committing to spending a total of $82 million on exploration for oil and gas around New Zealand as a result of 10 permits awarded by the government today.

Energy and Resources minister Phil Heatley announced the new exploration permits at a ceremony at Parliament today. Seven of the 10 block offers are in the Taranaki Basin, two in the offshore Pegasus Basin, just south east of Wellington and south of Wairarapa and one in the Great South Basin to the east of Dunedin.

The permits are equally divided between onshore and offshore areas.

Heatley said if all initial work was successful it could lead to spending of a further $776 million within five years.

Five year exploration permits were awarded to:

* International oil company Anadarko, which picked up two permits in the Pegasus Basin.

Anadarko already expects to test drill two or three exploratory prospects in late 2013/14. But Anadarko said it would be years before it might test identified prospects in the Pegasus Basin, pending the results of its analysis.

* Shell, OMV and Mitsuim with one new permit in the Great South Basin

* Todd Exploration and Cue Taranaki, with one offshore Taranaki Basin permit

* New Zealand Oil & gas with one offshore Taranaki permit

Canadian firm Tag Oil offshoot Cheal Petroleum and fellow Canadian explorer East West Petroleum with three onshore Taranaki permits. Cheal and East West have committed to a total of nine exploration wells onshore within 12 months, making it one of the busiest companies in the sector. East West is the only new arrival to New Zealand as a result of the blocks offer.

Tag Oil with one onshore Taranaki permit and New Zealand Energy Corporation and NZOG with one onshore Taranaki permit in a joint venture.

The 10 blocks were awarded out of an initial 25, which was whittled down to 23.

There were 24 bids for 13 of the blocks offered.

The blocks were awarded on the basis of how much exploration work was planned and the technical and financial capability of the bidders to carry out the work programme.

The blocks offered in covered 40,198.53 sq km of offshore seabed and 3305.45 sq km land in Waikato, Taranaki, Tasman, the West Coast and Southland.

Land listed under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 was excluded from the blocks.

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