8 Feb 2010

South Port optimistic about oil exploration

3:12 pm on 8 February 2010

New Zealand's southernmost port says it's in a strong position to become a base for oil exploration in the area.

South Port's underlying profit was relatively stable in the six months to December - at $1.67 million - but its port at Bluff has been hit by tumultuous international markets and falling cargo volumes.

South Port chief executive Mark O'Connor says the company was part of a delegation from the Southland Energy Consortium to visit a Norwegian oil and gas service hub late last year.

Mr O'Connor says it provided a valuable insight into strategies to attract oil and gas companies to the region, and the infrastructure necessary to support the activity.

He says the company is continuing to work alongside the Exxon Mobil-Todd consortium and OMV which hold exploration licences for the Great South Basin, south of Bluff.

Mr O'Connor says both the licence-holders were granted extensions for 12 months to defer their decision on potential exploration programmes.

He says while there are no assurances South Port will secure future activity in the oil and gas sector, he's confident Bluff has several advantages over its competitors.