NZ, ExxonMobil, and Fugro Reach Accord on Great South Basin Data

The Government of New Zealand, ExxonMobil and Fugro-Geoteam AS settled a dispute Friday in relation to the provision of seismic data to the Crown in relation to acreage in the Great South Basin.

Adam Feeley, Group Manager of the country's Crown Minerals agency, said: "I believe this is a good outcome for the Government, ExxonMobil and Fugro, as well as everyone else in the exploration industry, and it preserves the Crown's interest in obtaining a copy of all data acquired from exploration activities in New Zealand."

In early 2004, Fugro had undertaken a seismic survey on behalf of two then exploration permit holders - Bounty Oil & Gas and Magellan Petroleum - but they did not pay Fugro for that survey. Fugro subsequently sold the data to ExxonMobil in May 2005.

An issue then arose as to whether the Crown was legally entitled to a copy of the data, with proceedings being issued by ExxonMobil and Fugro against the Crown in order to clarify the position.

Under the settlement reached today ExxonMobil has agreed to provide the Crown with a copy of the data on a confidential basis and the Crown recognizes that ExxonMobil and Fugro have acted in good faith throughout. If ExxonMobil is awarded a permit in the permit area the data will remain confidential in accordance with the permit terms and the Crown Minerals regime. If not the Crown may disclose it after 5 years. ExxonMobil have though agreed to offer a copy of the data to any successful bidders, in areas to which the data relates, on reasonable commercial terms.

Mr Feeley said: "From discussions officials have had across industry, and as a result of this settlement, I am in no doubt that there continues to be high levels of confidence in the fairness and transparency of the New Zealand allocation process, and we are looking forward to a very competitive and successful blocks offer in the Great South Basin."