GNS Science has been awarded $9.6 million for research into oil and gas discoveries in New Zealand basins.
The government funding was announced by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.
GNS Science will conduct a four-year programme with the main objectives of understanding the rock formations that generate petroleum, and the way petroleum moves and is trapped in sub-surface structures.
Programme leader Richard Sykes said past "modest-sized" finds such as the Tui Field, which was discovered in 2003, dramatically increased the country's gross domestic product.
The programme will receive $2.4m annually for four years.