The New Zealand government announced Thursday that it is looking to include three offshore and five onshore exploration blocks in its 2013 petroleum exploration permitting round; the second year in which the government will exclusively use a 'block offer' annual competitive tender process to allocate permits for oil and gas exploration.
Three of the offshore blocks are in the Taranaki Basin, while the other two are in the East Coast Basin. The proposed offshore areas lie in the basins of Reinga-Northland, Taranaki and Great South-Canterbury.
Companies will be able to submit bids up to a limit of 3,861 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) in frontier areas and up to 965 square miles (2500 square kilometers) in the offshore Taranaki basin.
Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley said in a statement Thursday that the government will start consultation with relevant Maori tribes and local councils from Nov. 9. The discussions – to ensure local support from the community – will run until Jan. 30 next year. Permits are expected to be awarded in December 2013.
"We don't necessarily expect exploration to be undertaken in all the blocks on offer, but we need to find out what's out there and use that information to further develop New Zealand's resource wealth," Heatley said in the statement.
"I encourage iwi and councils to participate in this process. Their feedback ensures that areas of sensitivity are carefully considered before the areas to be tendered are finalized," Heatley added.
New Zealand's first petroleum exploration permitting round – also known as Block Offer 2012 –closed in October this year, and the government expects to announce the results by year-end.
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