The Race is on for Great South Basin Blocks

Harry Duynhoven, New Zealand's Associate Minister of Energy, confirmed Monday that 40 blocks are being offered for bidding in that country's offshore Great South Basin. Each block is approximately 9,000 square kilometers in size.

"This is perhaps the most exciting development in oil and gas exploration in New Zealand since the discovery of the Maui field almost 40 years ago," said Duynhoven. "The Great South Basin has long been regarded as a region with enormous exploration potential. [It] is a frontier region where the potential for high reward is matched by high risk in terms of exploration costs and challenging sea and weather conditions. We are therefore offering large blocks that will provide companies with the scope of opportunity needed for the exploration commitment we are seeking."

New Zealand's Crown Minerals Group said that it has consulted extensively with exploration companies around the world to establish bidding terms that will attract the best possible bids.

"Using funding established as part of the Government's 2004 exploration initiatives, Crown Minerals conducted a 3,200-kilometer seismic survey of the basin in March this year with the data being offered to companies in the lead up to the bidding process," recalled Duynhoven. "Initial processing of the seismic data has revealed new signs of oil and gas and the size of the basin appears to be far larger and more extensive than previously thought."

"Although the Great South Basin is a proven petroleum system, it will require several years of exploration before the full potential of the basin is properly understood," added Duynhoven. "We therefore need to attract companies with good technical skill, significant financial capability, and the right exploration strategy to provide us with the best chance that the basin can contribute to New Zealand's energy future."

Duynhoven also noted that a number of the major oil companies have already indicated interest in the region. In the coming months, Crown Minerals will continue promoting the bidding round in North America, Europe, and Asia. The bidding round will close in March 2007.

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