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NZ, Chile Sign Cooperative Science Agreement

NZ, Chile Sign Cooperative Science Agreement

An agreement signed today paves the way for Chile and New Zealand to work more closely on oil and gas exploration, geothermal energy development, and the study of earthquakes and volcanoes.

The agreement is between Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd (GNS) and the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICYT). It was signed by GNS Chief Executive Alex Malahoff and the President of CONICYT, Dr Eric Goles.

The agreement covers the exchange of personnel and information, and the promotion of public-private sector partnerships to support the development of innovative products and services.

Dr Malahoff said because of their similar geology, Chile and New Zealand shared many of the same opportunities and challenges in natural resources and geological hazards.

An initial focus would be geothermal development, an area where the predecessor of GNS ? the DSIR - had established a long record of working in Chile.

" As a country needing more electricity to power economic growth, Chile is keen to investigate its untapped geothermal prospects," Dr Malahoff said.

There would also be joint research projects in oil and gas exploration plus studies of offshore frozen methane deposits known as gas hydrates.

As known oil and gas reserves start to decline, commentators are increasingly regarding gas hydrates as a future energy source. Chile and New Zealand have substantial deposits of gas hydrates off their coasts.

A joint research project would investigate a number of areas including overcoming the challenges in extraction of commercial quantities of hydrates from beneath the seafloor.

The study of earthquake and volcanic hazards was another area where increased co-operation would benefit both countries.

" At the heart of this work is geology, geophysics, and geochemistry. New Zealand and Chile have an excellent record in working together in these disciplines. The agreement will strengthen these relationships and produce benefits for both countries," Dr Malahoff said.

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