A consortium considering drilling for oil and gas in the Canterbury Basin has opted to return an exploration permit to the Crown.
In a statement New Zealand Oil & Gas said the risk profile of the Barque prospect was "too high" for it and partners Beach Petroleum and AWE New Zealand.
NZOG took over as operator of Barque earlier this year and has previously said it was promoting the drilling contract to companies capable of undertaking a well in about 800m of water.
The permit stretches from about 15km offshore of Oamaru to about 25km northwest of Dunedin.
Earlier this month it was revealed that US exploration group Anadarko had deferred drilling in its Carrack-Caravel prospect, near the Barque prospect, until 2013/14.
- © Fairfax NZ News