22 Mar 2017

Govt hopes for more oil and gas exploration

5:12 pm on 22 March 2017

The Minister of Energy and Resources Minister says she is hopeful of increased exploration for oil and gas in New Zealand this year.

Offshore natural gas, oil

In the latest Block Offer, 481,735 square kilometres are available for exploration. Photo: 123RF

Judith Collins made the comments despite three years of falling responses to the government's so-called Block Offer.

Under this scheme, companies compete to win the rights to explore for petroleum. Last year, one made the final cut.

The previous year, it was nine. A year before that, it was 15.

The price of oil, which fell from about $US115 a barrel to about $US30 a barrel, hovers at $US50 to $US55.

Ms Collins said she thought, at this level, the industry might come back.

"It is a cyclical business, like dairying, and the indications we have had is that there will be some interest."

The "Block Offer" comprises a total acreage of 481,735 km² and includes two onshore, five offshore and one offshore/onshore release areas.

A map of the proposed Block Offer. Photo: Supplied / MBIE

Anti-drilling protesters delayed Ms Collins' launch of the Block Offer this morning. They blockaded the New Plymouth venue and kept delegates outside for about two hours].

Noisy chanting and drumming by the crowd of about 150 continued past lunchtime, as delegates inside continued their conference.

In the Block Offer, 481,735 square kilometres were available, covering eight areas.

Two of those were new - one off the coast of the Hawke's Bay and one onshore in Southland.

The others were offered before. They included water off the coast of Northland, North Taranaki, the East Coast north of Gisborne and off the coasts of South Canterbury and Otago.

Some were beside existing prospects, which were being tested using seismic techniques.

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