New Continental Shelf Rights Add to NZ Offshore Exploration Estate

New Zealand's rights over the Continental Shelf sea floor around its coast have been officially extended by 1.7 million square kilometers or 42% greater than covered by the 200 nautical mile-wide EEZ area.

The Government recently announced that a special United Nations Commission has officially confirmed New Zealand's claim to the 1.7 million sq km Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) area that includes rights to resources such as petroleum and minerals beneath and on the seafloor.

In the continental shelf extensions the water column is still regarded as in international waters, unlike the EEZ which covers both water and below seafloor.

The largest addition to New Zealand's continental shelf is to the west of the North Island, extending territory out from 800 km to 900 km west of New Plymouth.

This western extension is greater than the New Zealand landmass itself and will bring some future potential petroleum basins under New Zealand control.

Two basins within New Zealand's new ECS are the Bellona and Monowai basins which are on the southwest side of the Challenger Plateau (now all inside New Zealand's EEZ and shelf areas).

Crown Minerals is to begin work to understand these basins to announce blocks offers for exploration within the next five years.

The new western extension area also covers the remaining part of the Deepwater Taranaki Basin not already inside the EEZ and a large part of the deep New Caledonia Basin.

Other shelf extensions are to the north towards Fiji and Tonga (where boundary negotiations are not completed), to the north (mainly east and northeast of Chatham Islands) and smaller extensions to the south of the Campbell Plateau (to approximately 1,000 km south of the South Island).

The 1.7 million sq km shelf extension will add to the 4 million sq km already within New Zealand's EEZ, giving a total offshore seafloor area of 5.7 million sq km.

This is 21 times the size of New Zealand's land area of 268,021 sq km.
 

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