WELLINGTON Dec 5 New Zealand has awarded
deepwater petroleum exploration permits to Norway's Statoil and
Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd, which join other overseas
companies already looking to tap the nation's energy resources.
New Zealand has been courting foreign interest in frontier
oil and gas basins that have largely been ignored since some
early discoveries in the 1970s, as it looks to boost the
country's fourth-largest export industry.
The two companies, along with smaller Singapore-based rival
Mont D'Or Petroleum, joined local firms and foreign companies
already operating in the country in being granted permits for 10
prospects, half of which are in deepwater basins.
"The award of exploration permits today is another important
step toward unlocking New Zealand's oil and gas potential, both
on and offshore," energy minister Simon Bridges said in a
Interest in exploring New Zealand's remote, rough seas has
increased in the last few years as technology has improved,
while the development of floating LNG facilities means gas can
be processed for shipping without having to build expensive
Woodside Energy Holdings and New Zealand Oil and
Gas were jointly awarded two offshore permits - one in
the Taranaki region, the country's only petroleum-producing
area, and another off the southern tip off the South Island.
Statoil Lambda Netherlands BV was given a permit to
explore off the northwest coast of the North Island, while Mont
D'Or has an onshore permit to explore a block on the North
Island's east coast
The remaining offshore permit in the Taranaki Basin was
awarded to New Zealand Octanex, while other onshore
blocks were granted to Australia's AWE and Japan's
Mitsui, as well as Canada's TAG Oil.
The three new overseas entrants join petroleum heavyweights
including Royal Dutch Shell and Houston-based Anadarko
which already hold deepwater exploration permits around
Hoping to build on its massive natural gas discoveries in
Mozambique, Anadarko this month kicked off its first-ever
deepwater drilling campaign in New Zealand in a joint venture
with Australia's Origin Energy Ltd.
In the coming months, Anadarko plans to drill the country's
first deepwater wells in 15 years - one in the Taranaki Basin
and another off the east coast of the South Island. It has said
the wells could potentially yield multiple trillions of cubic
feet of gas.
Meanwhile, a consortium of Shell, Austria's OMV,
Thailand's PTTEP and Mitsui will decide by January
whether to drill in the Great South Basin.