New Zealand Announces Next Licensing Round

New Zealand has made public its next exploration licensing program for the country's main oil and gas production area, the Taranaki Basin. Under the 2001/02 Taranaki petroleum exploration permit offer 20 onshore and six offshore blocks were put on the block. The blocks are to be allocated by competitive staged work program bidding. Bids should be submitted by April 30, 2002.

The Taranaki basin covers a wide swathe along the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. In the year to July 2001, it produced 220 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas and 13 million barrels of oil. Discoveries in the last three years included the offshore Maari and Pohokura fields and the onshore Rimu and Windsor fields, with proven reserves in the four fields at 105 million barrels of oil and 1,004 bcf of gas. An additional onshore field, Kauri, discovered in July alongside Rimu was not included in the reserves total.

Oil companies with interests in the Taranaki Basin include Royal Dutch/Shell Group, OMV, Swift Energy, Preussag Energie and privately-owned New Zealand firm Todd Petroleum. Since 1999, exploration expenditure in the region has totaled NZ$400 million ($167.2 million) with 35 wells drilled.