8 May 2013

Shell wants to explore New Caledonia Basin

1:08 pm on 8 May 2013

Shell New Zealand intends to start exploring for oil and gas between New Zealand and New Caledonia in a joint venture with CNOOC, a Chinese oil company.

Shell says it will conduct two-dimensional seismic exploration and other research techniques to explore the seabed and geology of the New Caledonia Basin. The area straddles New Zealand's 200 mile exclusive economic zone and extends into its extended continental shelf area.

In a brief statement, Shell NZ said it will operate the permit, assuming it's granted, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) will take a 50% share in the venture.

AAP reports the proposed permit is still subject to government approval and is not among areas previously offered for exploration.

"Before we start any work in the basin we will conduct a comprehensive impact assessment," said Shell NZ chairman, Rob Jager.

"Safety and protection of the environment remain our highest priorities."

AAP reports Shell is also partnering with OMV, an Austrian oil company, on plans to drill exploration wells in the Great South Basin, off the bottom of the South Island, in the summer of 2014/15.