Origin Wins Second Offshore Canterbury Permit

Origin Energy has been awarded a second large offshore Canterbury Basin petroleum exploration permit largely in deepwater.

The 23,790 sq km PEP 38264 runs in a 100-km wide strip from the tip of Banks Peninsula south to 100km east of Dunedin. At times the permit reaches approximately 250km out from the Canterbury coast.

The new permit is adjacent to and further offshore from Origin Energy's other Canterbury permit, the 12,630 sq km PEP 38262, which Origin was awarded in August last year.

Rob Willink, Origin Energy's executive general manager for exploration, said from Brisbane that the company had acquired the new permit after encouraging seismic results from large basement structures off the Otago coast in Origin's PEP 38262 permit closer inshore.

Origin acquired earlier this year 1000 km of 2D seismic data in its Carrack regional survey. One of the targets of this survey was the large Carrack lead approximately 50 km east of Dunedin which pre-survey was understood to be 400 sq km in size. The Carrack lead lies in approximately 1000-1300m deep water.

Carrack lies about 50 km southeast of the Galleon-1 well where gas-condensate flows were found in the 1980s and about 60 km south of the large Barque prospect at similar depths in PEP 38259 which operator Tap Oil plans to drill next year.

Mr. Willink said Origin's prime interest in the new permit would be targeting some of the large basement highs such as the Benreoch high in 1000m to 1500m deep water. Origin would also be examining stratigraphic onlap plays further north, south of Banks Peninsula.

He said this was high risk frontier exploration. Though the water depths were well within current oil industry capability the very high cost of any deepwater development meant large reservoirs needed to be found to make development economic.

Mr. Willink said that Origin plans to acquire about February next year some 2300 km of 2D seismic across both of its Canterbury Basin permits.

Under the proposed work program for the new permit Origin is to drill an exploration well within four years.