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Research Boost For Oil And Gas Exploration

Research Boost For Oil And Gas Exploration

New Zealand's leading petroleum research organisation has won a Government contract to help in the search for new deposits of oil and gas in New Zealand.

The research is valued at $3.6 million a year for six years and will be carried out by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS) and funded by the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology.

The aim of the programme is to identify regions with petroleum potential to help attract new exploration companies to New Zealand.

In recent years, background research done by GNS has contributed to numerous oil and gas discoveries in New Zealand. GNS has a team of 30 scientists looking specifically the petroleum potential of sedimentary basins.

" The new programme is aimed at developing a four-dimensional computer model of the prospective parts of New Zealand's sedimentary basins," leader of the research programme Dr Peter King said.

" As well as geographic location, it will show thickness and depth of burial of rock strata likely to contain oil and gas, and how factors affecting the evolution of petroleum accumulations have changed through geological time."

The work will provide a wealth of new data that will lead to improved prediction of the presence and type of petroleum accumulations.

" Some industry commentators believe New Zealand needs three times the present level of exploration intensity to ensure we have enough new reserves of natural gas once the Maui Field depletes," Dr King said.

" Although Taranaki is New Zealand's best understood sedimentary basin, it is still only lightly explored in global terms.

" Based on known field sizes and geological assessments, we believe that considerable volumes of oil and gas have yet to be discovered in Taranaki."

The new research programme contains a mix of fundamental geological knowledge, big-picture regional evaluations, computer-based modelling, and solutions-based research attuned to industry needs.

The research will add value to industry data and will be of a type not normally undertaken by exploration companies.

" We'll work closely with exploration companies to identify special areas where our research efforts can be focused," Dr King said.

In the past year, exploration companies had spent $1 million for oil and gas consultancy work at GNS.

This work drew on expertise gained from GNS's government-funded research and had contributed toward finding new reserves, which benefited all New Zealanders, Dr King said.

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