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More Information Equals More Gas - Geologist


Potential gas reserves in New Zealand remain undeveloped because of a lack of geological information, a petroleum geologist said today.

Chris Uruski, of the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS), said numerous geological structures offshore from the East Coast and Taranaki had been identified as prospective for gas.

“ With more research, computer modelling and seismic surveys in particular, we could prove the extent of these fields. This would attract drilling from exploration companies.”

Mr Uruski’s comments follow a reminder today from Natural Gas Corporation Chief Executive Richard Bentley that New Zealand’s present gas reserves would be close to depletion by 2009. New Zealand’s major natural gas field, Maui off Taranaki, is two thirds depleted.

Unless significant discoveries were developed soon, New Zealand could risk a gas shortage that would be disruptive and expensive for consumers, Mr Uruski said. A major new offshore gas field could take up to two years to develop, even in the most favourable conditions. Measures the Government could take to encourage exploration included improving the tax regime for exploration and industry-funded research, and channelling more royalties back into research.

“There’s plenty of untapped potential for gas in Taranaki, which is regarded as lightly explored in international terms. Off the North Island’s east coast we’ve identified six possible oil and gas-bearing structures, each potentially as big as the Maui natural gas field. We’ve also found up to 30 smaller geological structures that could be attractive to oil and gas exploration companies.”

Mr Uruski said seismic coverage of the East Coast region was patchy. “ In some places it’s good, in other places it’s non-existent. It would be good to be able to collect more data.”

The East Coast Basin covers 120,000sqkm and includes on and offshore areas between East Cape and Marlborough. The Taranaki Basin covers 85,000sqkm, and is largely offshore. GNS had also identified gas-bearing geological structures in the South Island, particularly the Solander and West Coast Basins.

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