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Offshore oil and gas exploration season starts

Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister of Energy and Resources

2 November 2009
Media Statement

Offshore oil and gas exploration season starts

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee announced the MV Bergen Resolution has been contracted by Crown Minerals for an offshore seismic survey this summer.

”This latest seismic data acquisition will increase exploration activity across our frontier basins,” said Mr Brownlee.

“In 2008 oil was our third largest export earner and we have the opportunity to increase the value of this industry to our economy. The data acquisition initiative has the potential to open up new areas which are prospective for oil and gas,” he said.

”Continuation of this initiative is vital if New Zealand is to maintain the current momentum of exploration activity. We have a vast offshore continental area of which New Zealand’s frontier basins cover an area of about 1.2 million square kilometres and may be capable of generating billions of barrels of oil”.

The Bergen Resolution will make a short port call in Wellington and then head out into the Pegasus Basin to acquire approximately 3,000 km of 2D seismic data. Preliminary studies by GNS Science suggest this basin has considerable hydrocarbon potential.

The Bergen Resolution will then head south to the Great South Basin and Bounty Trough area to acquire approximately 4,000 km of seismic data. Reconnaissance data will also be acquired across the Challenger Plateau and Bellona Trough area, outer Taranaki Basin, and Northland East Slope Basin area where satellite oil seep detection surveys have identified natural oil seeps suggesting active petroleum systems are present in these areas.

“It is anticipated that exploration companies will also utilise this vessel to acquire further 2D and 3D seismic data,’ said Mr Brownlee.

“This summer is shaping up to be a busy period of exploration with some large seismic acquisition programmes and a large drilling campaign due to commence when the Kan Tan IV semi-submersible drilling rig arrives in New Zealand towards the end of this year.”

In addition to the frontier basins work, Crown Minerals will also be advancing a variety of detailed geotechnical studies on the Taranaki Basin. The results of this work will assist moving forward exploration in the basin and accelerate the potential discovery of new oil and gas reserves.

Question And Answers

1. How much money will be spent on the data acquisition programme this summer?
In Budget 09, the government committed $20 million to support the data acquisition initiative. The programme for this summer is estimated to cost between $10 million and $12 million.

2. What will the data be used for?
The data acquired across these basins will be used to support the promotion of block offers. The seismic data, along with various geotechnical reports, is compiled into a data package which is given away free to exploration companies.

This approach has been well received by the industry locally and internationally. Crown Minerals has established a strong international reputation through this initiative, which has facilitated interest from exploration companies that would otherwise considered New Zealand to not be prospective for oil and gas.

3. Why is the government funding a data acquisition programme?
This Government considers the natural resource sector to have significant potential to add value to the New Zealand economy and, therefore, revitalised the data acquisition initiative closed down by the previous Government.

We are committed to supporting the exploration for new oil and gas reserves. The success of this initiative will be in attracting oil companies to explore across areas where new data has been acquired, and ultimately by increasing our oil and gas reserves position.

4. Why have these areas been targeted?
All known offshore basins have been evaluated using existing data. Based on a range of criteria, these areas were identified as priority areas that would benefit from the acquisition of new data. Subject to the results of this data, it is intended to promote the areas via competitive block offers to attract exploration companies. The timing of these is not yet determined but are likely to be sometime in 2011.

5. Who is the operator of the Bergen Resolution?
Reflect Geophysical Pte Limited, which is a Singapore-based seismic acquisition company.

ENDS

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