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Oil and gas exploration in East Cape and Northland

Hon Gerry Brownlee

Minister of Energy and Resources


 
 10 December 2008
Media Statement

 

Oil and gas exploration opened in East Cape and Northland


Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced the opening of bidding for new petroleum exploration permits across two large offshore areas, the Raukumara (East Cape) and Northland basins.

Two extensive blocks are being offered for bidding across Raukumara and six blocks across Northland, with a combined total area of over 66,000 square kilometres.

“This is a unique combination of exploration blocks offering a variety of opportunities that will appeal to explorers,” Mr Brownlee said.

A number of the major oil companies have already indicated interest in the New Zealand region, and in coming months Crown Minerals will continue to promote bidding rounds in Australia, North America, Europe and Asia.

“The current block offers keep up the momentum generated by previous block offer releases such as offshore Taranaki to realise gas reserves for our domestic market and to discover potentially large oil and gas reserves in our deep water basins.

“At this time of uncertainty in international financial markets, as well as the fall in oil prices, it is important for the Government to maintain interest in New Zealand by providing new data to support block offers with attractive terms,” Mr Brownlee said.

The Government is maintaining exploration momentum in New Zealand via further data acquisition programmes to support future blocks offers.

“The Crown Minerals Group has achieved considerable success with the data acquisition initiative which will continue over the next few years,” Mr Brownlee said.

The bidding round will close in January 2010.

Details on the bidding round, including location maps and free technical data, can be obtained at the Crown Minerals website: www.crownminerals.govt.nz

ENDS



Questions and Answers:
Have any exploration companies shown interest in these blocks?

These blocks offers have already attracted considerable interest from a large number of international and local exploration companies. They offer a range of exploration opportunities and are highly prospective based on the available geotechnical information.

Will the current financial market uncertainties and low oil prices affect interest in these blocks offers?

The exploration industry is not immune to the global financial market. Given the cyclical swings in oil prices, interest in the offers is not expected to be lower than would otherwise be the case because companies take many years to explore and potentially develop a field.

Can you name the companies that have expressed an interest?

It would not be appropriate to disclose the names of these companies because of the commercial and competitive nature of the oil and gas industry.

Where is the Raukumara Basin?

The Raukumara Basin lies offshore from the coast of East Cape, North Island, and covers approximately 25,000 square kilometres. (The block offer covers a smaller area.)

Where is the Northland Basin?

The Northland Basin lies offshore to the west of the upper North Island and covers an area of 120,000 square kilometres. (The block offer covers a smaller area.) This basin is contiguous with the oil and gas producing Taranaki Basin.

What is the potential of these basins?

The Raukumara Basin has only recently been discovered and has not yet been subject to exploration activities. Seismic and associated technical data acquired by the government in 2007 revealed considerable potential for oil and gas. The seismic data shows a thickness of over 11 kilometres of sediment which contains source rock and reservoir rocks, and multiple geological features to trap any oil and gas that has been generated in this basin. Satellite radar imaging has detected a number of potential offshore seeps that indicate the presence of oil and gas. The presence of seeps is consistent with the presence of onshore oil and gas seep.

The Northland Basin is highly prospective but under-explored. The geology in this area is contiguous with the producing Taranaki Basin. The oil and gas potential was recently enhanced by satellite radar imaging, which highlighted a large number of potential offshore seeps that indicate the presence of oil and gas.


When will oil and or gas be discovered?

It is likely to be at least 4 to 5 years following the award of any permits (probably in early 2010), before we will know whether there is likely to be any commercial discovery of oil or gas, and then another 10 years before that oil or gas reaches the market.

What does this mean for the East Coast and Northland regions?

There could be substantial regional and national economic benefits arising from any discovery of new oil and gas.

How will these block offers impact on local people?

Following the award of any exploration permits the successful exploration companies will engage with local and regional authorities, and government agencies in accordance with relevant legislation.

Will the Government resume the data acquisition initiative to open new areas for exploration?

This initiative has proved to be successful in opening new areas to exploration and has attracted substantial investment from the private sector. The decision to abandon this initiative by the previous government will be reviewed to determine where future investment may stimulate greater investment from the private sector.

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