The Ministry said "There have been repeated requests from major international companies regarding the timing of bidding rounds and the number of blocks to be offered in the Great South Basin and so we have decided to confirm what areas will be available and when."
The Ministry confirmed that a large area which has been previously reserved in the Great South Basin was to be divided into identical graticular blocks measuring 80km by 113km – each block on offer being approximately 9,000 sq km.
"We believe that it is likely a number of large companies will want to establish a presence in the Great South Basin. We are therefore offering enough blocks to ensure there are opportunities for all bidding companies, while also offering successful bidders an exploration area large enough to ensure the prospect of large scale potential that the region requires."
The Ministry said it recognized that the region's remoteness meant that any development would take longer than other basins which had recently been opened for exploration.
"However, the Great South Basin is commonly acknowledged to have enormous potential and, as such, the sooner large scale exploration commences there, the sooner we will be in an more informed position to know how the Basin might contribute to New Zealand's long term energy needs."
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