The new permits were issued following a competitive bidding round where 41 bids were received for the 26 blocks on offer, indicating a strong interest in New Zealand oil and gas prospects.
The 21 permits went to 19 different companies, of which four were local companies. Seven of the remaining companies are from the United States, six are from Australia and three are from Europe. Eighteen of these permits are in the onshore area and three offshore.
"The latest round will lead to a more intensive exploration effort in Taranaki over the next few years," said Mr Swain. "With more companies exploring over generally smaller permit areas than issued in the past, it is hoped that this will lead to more oil and gas being found."
As part of their bids petroleum exploration companies were required to submit programs of exploration work in each permit area. The company, or group of companies, with the most intensive exploration program were most likely to win the exploration permit.
"I am very pleased so many companies have bid for these Taranaki permits", said Mr Swain. "It shows the keen interest there is in New Zealand as a place to explore for oil and gas."
In the offshore area, two of the largest permits were awarded to the Shell-OMV and Todd partnership, a grouping which also holds the Maari offshore prospect. The Wellington-based explorer Indo-Pacific Energy (NZ) Ltd has been allocated its first offshore permit in New Zealand, to the northeast of the Pohokura gas-condensate field.
Two Australian-based companies Tap Oil Ltd and Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd have joined Indo-Pacific Energy in three new onshore exploration permits. Indo-Pacific now holds an interest in eight Taranaki Basin exploration permits plus an interest in the Ngatoro oil field. Tap now has an interest in six of the onshore permits with Indo-Pacific, following Tap's recent announcement that it had acquired interests in three onshore Taranaki permits. Two other new companies on the New Zealand exploration scene, which have been awarded permits, are Aspect Energy LLC and Bridge Petroleum Ltd.
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