Canadian company Tag Oil is planning to spend more than NZ$40 million on a major drilling campaign around Taranaki this year.
At least 13 new wells are planned as part of the drilling programme, most around the Cheal field near Ngaere.
And in addition to the proposed drilling, resource consents are being sought for 10 new surface drilling pads within Tag's Taranaki Basin permitted area. Each drill pad is intended to host up to 12 wells, providing potential for Tag to drill up to 120 wells in coming years.
Tag Oil chief executive Garth Johnson said from Vancouver yesterday the programme was building on the success of the company's operations in 2011 and 2012.
"We expect 2013 to be another exciting and transformational year for Tag," he said.
"With a record number of wells to drill in Taranaki as well as plans for the upcoming drilling in the East Coast Basin, I'm confident our plans will continue to become our reality."
After drilling 21 successful wells in Taranaki, the oil company now plans to add a higher-risk, higher-impact deep-drilling component. The deeper wells will target the Kapuni area.
BusinessDay was unable to contact Tag Oil's Taranaki-based chief operating officer, Drew Cadenhead, yesterday.
But environmental activist Sarah Roberts said the face of Taranaki would be unrecognisable if the number of wells continued to grow like this.
"It's unbelievable. Stratford people are in for a very rude awakening."
Meanwhile, Tag's $30m infrastructure expansion investment continues to proceed on time to meet the completion date of March 31, 2013.
By then, Tag expects wells already drilled and tested but currently shut-in to be placed into full time production.
This will meet two of the company's goals - to maximise the commercial potential of existing and future wells at Cheal and Sidewinder, and to become a completely independent processor, transporter and marketer of the natural gas.