New Zealand's Taranaki Field Draws Interest

Interest is growing in the possibility that huge, untapped oil reserves are waiting to be discovered in the deep waters offshore New Zealand's Taranaki coast. Results of an ambitious deepwater seismic survey conducted earlier this year are being published to encourage international oil companies to explore the the Taranaki Basin.

One of New Zealand's top seismic scientists, Chris Uruski, has been invited to present a paper to the world's biggest deepwater drilling conference in Houston, Texas. Mr Uruski, who works for the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, also released details of the survey to scientists at a geology conference in Australia last week. He told the conference that he and his colleagues "hazard a guess that the deepwater Taranaki Basin may contain as much as 20 billion barrels of trapped oil". The information gathered in the deepwater survey is owned for five years by the seismic firm TGS-Nopec, which surveyed the deepwater area with the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences. TGS-Nopec will sell it to various oil companies. Once the five years is up, the information will become the property of the New Zealand Government. New Zealand is currently offering six offshore blocks in its current bidding round which will close on April 30th of 2002. Offshore there are 6700 sq km on offer. Two of the six offshore blocks are near the recently discovered Pohokura gas-condensate field, one lies between Cape Egmont and the Maui gas-condensate field and three are immediately to the east of the Deepwater Taranaki Basin area which will be put on offer later in 2002.