Int'l Interest Expected in Offshore Taranaki Block Offer

New Zealand's growing international appeal as an exploration destination is expected to result in strong international bids for the Offshore Outer Taranaki basin the Associate Minister of Energy, Hon Harry Duynhoven said.

Formally announcing the Government's offer for 3 large blocks in the Outer Taranaki, Mr. Duynhoven said, "In the lead up to this announcement there have been many discussions with international companies which gives us a high level of confidence that there will be new entrants to the exploration scene in New Zealand."

The announcement follows a package of exploration incentives from the Government last year which included a budget for the acquisition of seismic data to support Government blocks offers for petroleum exploration permits.

Acquisition of data from the Outer Taranaki basin was identified as a high priority because of the proven petroleum systems within the basin, and the speed with which any discoveries could be brought into production.

"Outer Taranaki has had little exploration to date, but expert opinion indicates that it has the scale of potential that will appeal to well-resourced, international companies. In recent months there have been a number of meetings with companies from North America and Asia to identify the level of interest in New Zealand and the regions where that interest will be most likely focused.

"We have heard and responded to the message from international explorers that to be viewed as a favorable exploration destination we need to increase the scale of exploration opportunity, provide improved knowledge about the region, and put forward an attractive business case for investment, " said Mr. Duynhoven.

"In the past 6 months the fiscal regime for petroleum production has been enhanced, two large basins made available for bids (with a further announcement imminent), and data acquired and made freely available to interested explorers.

"I think it is fair to say that overseas companies have been pleasantly surprised how quickly the New Zealand Government is able to act compared to other jurisdictions, and that speed of response is now creating a much more competitive environment for exploring here," Mr. Duynhoven said.

While not able to comment on the names of potential new entrants, the Minister noted that the recent comments from Chinese petroleum giant Sinopec indicating their interest in exploring in New Zealand would send a powerful signal to exploration companies around the world that the time was ripe for an exploration boom in New Zealand.