Large chunks of NZ offered for exploration

May 8, 2013

The Government is to offer up large sections of on It is the second time the Government has asked for competing bids for permits.

The first round was held in 2012 and resulted in 10 five-year permits being issued for the Taranaki Basin, two in the Pegasus Basin and one in the Great South Basin.

At the time, the Government said the 10 permits represented $82 million in exploration spending.

Bidding for the second round, covering 189,000 square kilometres offshore and more than 1500 onshore will start on 24 May.

There will be three onshore blocks in Taranaki, two on the East Coast of the North Island, and three offshore areas in the Reinga-Northland Basins, the Taranaki Basin and Great South Canterbury Basins.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges announced the offer at the Advantage Petroleum Conference in Auckland on Monday.

Mr Bridges said the Government’s plan represents a sensible development of the country’s resources, but it must be done is a safe way.

He said the exploration offer has the potential to provide a solid investment for future generations of New Zealanders.

Prime Minister John Key told the conference the Government supports plans to significantly expand oil and gas exploration and believes the industry could be a game-changer for New Zealand.

The head of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association said he is optimistic that a big discovery will be made in the next two years.

David Robinson said New Zealand has 18 sedimentary basins, of which only Taranaki is producing oil and gas, so there is tremendous potential for a discovery in one of the other areas.

Mr Robinson said oil and gas exploration contributes just under $1 billion in royalties and taxes to the Government’s coffers each year and generates 7700 jobs.

An American expert on oil drilling safety says if New Zealand is to have more oil and gas rigs, it needs to ensure that the safety regulations are continually reviewed so they keep pace with technological change.

Michael Bromwich led the changes to the offshore drilling regulations in the United States after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and caused the country’s biggest offshore oil spill.

Mr Bromwich said the New Zealand Government should monitor technological developments in the industry closely and update safety rules to reflect the changes.

Listen to Checkpoint interview with Michael Bromwich and offshore New Zealand for oil and gas exploration.