An Australian company surveying for coal seam gas deposits on the West Coast and Waikato says the gas could soon be used to generate electricity.
Comet Ridge says it expects to begin drilling for coal seam gas, which is largely made up of methane, late next year.
Managing director Tor McCaul says aircraft will survey an area of up to 2000 sq km this summer to pinpoint gas deposits.
The mining company L & M and Solid Energy are also exploring for coal seam gas.
Mr McCaul says it could be used to fire small turbines.
He says electricity generation from coal seam gas could begin within 18 months.