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Offshore Oil & Gas Potential High, Scientists Say


There is good potential for commercial oil and gas finds offshore from the South Island, according to a geophysicist.

There were many large, untested geological structures that had all the right components for oil and gas in the Canterbury and Great South Basins, said Rupert Sutherland of the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS).

“ Oil and gas shows in six of the 12 offshore wells, combined with the discovery of two sub-commercial gas-condensate fields, demonstrate that these two basins contain significant volumes of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons,” Dr Sutherland told the New Zealand Petroleum Conference in Christchurch today.

The highly under-explored nature of the South Island’s offshore basins had both pluses and minuses.

The advantages were that there were many undrilled structures that appeared to be prospective, and it was relatively easy to obtain an exploration permit.

“ The disadvantages are that the region is remote from infrastructure and markets. And seismic, borehole and other scientific information is sparce.”

A discovery of modest size onshore in Canterbury may well be economic to develop, but offshore discoveries would need to be sizeable.

“ The small number of wells makes risk assessment difficult for the region, but initial information is promising.”

Dr Sutherland said the Western Southland Basin, with similarities to Taranaki, was also a prospective area.

Chris Uruski, a petroleum geologist with GNS, told the conference there may be billions of barrels of oil awaiting discovery in New Zealand’s six deep-water basins.

The total area of the basins, within the 2000m isobath, amounted to 550,000km2, or 15 percent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

He named the basins as Raukumara, Pegasus, Head of Bounty Trough, Solander, Deep-water Taranaki, and Great South Basin.

The Deep-water Taranaki Basin, covering 150,000km2, was the most attractive partly because of its geology and partly because of the type and quality of information that had been gleaned from scientific surveys of the area.

“ Our computer modelling suggests that large quantities of oil may have been generated in this basin.”

 GNS is a leading provider of technical and scientific services to the oil and gas exploration industry.


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