Three blocks of land in Taranaki and several thousand square kilometres off the coast are part of the 2013 petroleum permitting round that started this week.
The Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry has announced consultation has begun with iwi and councils with interests in the areas where the blocks are likely to go up for tender next year.
The feedback received will form the basis of final decisions on the make-up of the tender process, which is expected to begin by the end of April, David Binnie, the general manager of the ministry's petroleum and minerals branch, said.
The three onshore blocks include a parcel of land between New Plymouth and Inglewood extending to the coast, a smaller block south-east of Inglewood, and another large area between Opunake and Manaia extending inland almost to Egmont National Park.
The offshore areas on offer include a single area close to the southwestern coastline, and several areas well out in deepwater Taranaki.
For the first time, instead of designating specific offshore permit blocks, the Government has identified certain prospective basins and overlaid a mesh of smaller blocks, each approximately 250sqkm in size.
Exploration companies will be able to bid for one or more of these smaller blocks in a release area, up to a limit of 2500sqkm in the offshore Taranaki basins.
The Government's annual block offer process is an important part of developing New Zealand future oil and gas reserves, Binnie said.
"To make the most of our oil and gas resources, we must attract responsible companies to explore New Zealand's potential reserves.
"Oil and gas already play an important part in the New Zealand economy - and that contribution will grow for future generations if successful discoveries are made and developed."
The consultation with iwi and councils started this week, and closes in January. Permits are expected to be awarded in December next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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