New Zealand Awards First Deepwater Permit

The New Zealand government has awarded an exploration permit for the country's first deepwater exploration licensing round to the sole bidder. The permit was awarded on December 9 to AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd, Stewart Petroleum Company Ltd and WM Petroleum Ltd.

The bid was for the largest of five blocks, covering a 12,000 sq km (4,632 sq miles) area next to the Taranaki Basin. The permit is immediately adjacent to a block in which the permit holders also hold an interest. That block is the permit in which the Tui discovery was made last summer. The companies said in February that the Tui-1 well may contain more than 10 million barrels of recoverable oil.

AWE NZ is a subsidiary of Australian Worldwide Exploration, Stewart Petroleum is a subsidiary of New Zealand Oil & Gas and WM Exploration is owned by Australian-based Pan Pacific Petroleum.