Search for oil soon off SC coast

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013
andrew knight
NZ Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight

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Seismic investigation for oil and gas could soon occur off the shores of South Canterbury.

NZ Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight said it was planning seismic investigations for an area off the coast of South Canterbury, colloquially known as the Clipper.

"Oil and gas prices are more favourable now than they were back then [earlier drilling], and the safety technology has improved markedly ... this is potentially a very exciting opportunity," he said.

"We're looking at a couple of suitable ships. The seismic investigations could get under way before Christmas."

Mr Knight said it would take about a month to complete the physical seismic investigation. Afterwards, the data would be analysed, which would take at least a year.

However, if there was a "decent show", he said it would "find partners" for a possible drilling operation.

"There will be people very interested in the opportunities it offers in terms of jobs, and a new energy source ... the dairy industry could be one of the big users," Mr Knight said.

"There will also be people concerned about the potential effects on the environment, which is understandable. If we do go ahead, we will do what we can to mitigate any concerns."

The Clipper permit is a joint venture with the Australian-based Beach Energy. NZ Oil and Gas bought into the permit in October last year.

Extensive seismic surveys were conducted in the Canterbury Basin in the 1970s and 1980s before the only existing well in the block, Clipper-1, was drilled by BP in 1984. It recovered samples of hydrocarbon gas from a depth of over 4000 metres.

Mr Knight's comments come after the Government granted 10 exploration licences yesterday - five offshore and five onshore - as part of its latest block offer.

New Zealand Oil & Gas picked up a permit to explore a block off the Otago coast northeast of Dunedin, starting from April.

"With all these projects, we deal in multiples of years, not months ... There are a lot of stages to go through," Mr Knight said.

Other companies which were successful yesterday included Octanex (one offshore Taranaki permit), AWE and Mitsui Australia (one onshore Taranaki permit), Tag Oil (one onshore Taranaki permit), Eastern Petroleum and East West Petroleum (one onshore East Coast permit) and Greymouth Petroleum offshoot Petrochem, (one onshore Taranaki permit).


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- The Timaru Herald

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