AWE, Partners Win New Permit Near Maui Field

Sydney-based AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd and its other Tui partners have been granted a new petroleum exploration permit south of Tui and adjoining the western side of the Maui field, according to New Zealand Crown Minerals.

One of the leads in the permit Toke which AWE will target is approximately 5-10 kilometers west of the now depleted Maui B oil field.

AWE will operate the 642.5 square kilometers PEP 38 499 and hold a 42.5% interest. Mitsui E&P Australia Pty Ltd holds a 35% interest in the permit, New Zealand Oil & Gas (through subsidiary Stewart Petroleum Co. Ltd) holds 12.5% and Pan Pacific Petroleum NL 10%.

This is the third offshore Taranaki permit which AWE has been granted in two months. AWE is now operator of six exploration permits west of Maui in addition to the Tui mining permit.

AWE managing director Bruce Phillips said, "The acquisition of additional exploration interests in the offshore Taranaki basin is consistent with our view that the area remains under explored with potential for the discovery of significant oil and gas fields.

"The new permit areas are contiguous with our existing acreage position in the basin, where the Tui Area project is nearing the production of its first oil and where an exciting exploration drilling campaign is scheduled to commence in July.

"AWE is now a dominant acreage holder in the Taranaki basin and these new acreage acquisitions demonstrate our long term commitment to New Zealand's energy future."

In a separate release NZOG said PEP 38 499 had several promising leads including Matuku and Toke, which will be delineated by 400 kilometers of marine 2D seismic survey planned for mid 2007 and the reprocessing of more than 300 kilometers of existing seismic data.