By New Zealand Correspondent Neil Ritchie

ENVIRONMENTALISTS hailed the failure of Anadarko’s two wildcat campaigns – in the Deepwater Taranaki basin and offshore Canterbury basin – as an almost certain indication of the US major’s imminent departure from New Zealand.

However, Anadarko’s Asia-Pacific exploration manager John Gordon told Oil & Gas Australia at Advantage NZ: 2014 this was certainly not the case.

“Yes we hit basement earlier than expected with Romney-1 but not that much earlier than expected and we have a lot of geotechnical information and downhole data that needs to be analysed, fully analysed, from both wells and that will take some time.

“We regard Deepwater Taranaki as equally important as offshore Canterbury,” he added, commenting on the Romney well in licence PEP 38451 and the Caravel-1 wildcat off Otago in the Canterbury licence PEP 38264.

Another indication of Anadarko’s likely long term stay in New Zealand – though only retaining a small Wellington office – is its recent farm-in to the deepwater prospecting permit PPP 55377 covering part of the massive frontier New Caledonia basin to the northwest of the North Island.

The government’s New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals unit finally granted operator Shell Exploration New Zealand, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Anadarko the lease in mid-April, 11 months after Shell and CNOOC first applied for the permit.

Anadarko has now taken a 25 per cent stake in the lease, with Shell and CNOOC each holding 37.5% stakes.

Work program requirements for the 32 month lease include conducting a multi- beam sea floor survey over at least 30,000 square kilometres of the permit, acquiring and processing at least 10,000 kilometres of 2D seismic, and completing a report on the prospectivity of the permit.

That means Anadarko is likely to stay in New Zealand until at least early 2017, perhaps later as its two Pegasus basin leases, PEPs 545858 and 54861, do not come up for renewal until December 2017.

“I have to applaud Shell, CNOOC and Anadarko for their confidence in the New Caledonia basin . . . a lot more people need to take up this challenge of exploring our frontier regions,” OMV New Zealand new ventures team leader Chris Uruski told the Advantage NZ forum.