FOUR offshore release areas and one onshore field are up for grabs in the 2016 petroleum block offer launcehd by New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals.

The four offshore release areas are in the Reinga-Northland basin, Taranaki basin, Pegasus and East Coast basins and Great South-Canterbury basin, with the onshore release area in the Taranaki basin.

The onshore Taranaki basin has a variety of blocks up for grabs in the 2016 round. Image courtesy New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals.

The onshore Taranaki basin has a variety of blocks up for grabs in the 2016 round. Image courtesy New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals.

Launched by NZ energy and resources minister Simon Bridges at the NZ Petroleum Conference 2016, the tender totals 525,515 square kilometres in total, in areas selected in consultation with iwi, hapū and local authorities as well as industry nominations and prospectivity assessments.

Mr Bridges said he intended that the winners of the permits would be announced by December this year.

“We will give industry more than five months to prepare bids for this tender. All bids are due by 7 September this year,” he said.

The onshore Taranaki release area was where New Zealand’s petroleum industry began – with the basin having produced oil and gas commercially since the early 1900s, with 20 producing fields today.

“Considering that almost a third – 14 out of 44 – of the permits issued since 2012 have been in onshore Taranaki, it is clear the area still has untapped potential,” Mr Bridges said.

The offshore Taranaki basin also had scope for further exploration, with 60,978 square kilometres of available acreage.

“With multiple permits granted in Taranaki each year since the block offer began in 2012, this basins’ potential is clearly understood,” Mr Bridges said.

The release area in the Northland-Reinga basin includes 186,161 square kilometres of available acreage, with Statoil having won two blocks in the basin in 2013 and 2014.

“While we have seismic data for this basin dating back to the 1960s, it is large and still relatively unexplored,” Mr Bridges said.

“It is believed to be prospective for oil and gas, and it shares a lot in common with the Taranaki basin.”

The release area in the Pegasus and East Coast basins include 68,662 square kilometres of available acreage, including new acreage in the East Coast basin following a government funded survey over the area.

“These two basins are considered among New Zealand’s most promising. Both are prospective for oil, gas, and gas hydrates gas, and both are under-explored,” Mr Bridges said.

“Two permits were granted to Anadarko in the Pegasus basin for block offer 2012.

Block offer 2014 saw three 15-year petroleum exploration permits granted in these basins to a joint-venture between Chevron and Statoil, and one to OMV.”

The release area in the Great South and Canterbury basins includes about 208,632 square kilometres of available acreage in an area where Shell, Woodside and New Zealand Oil & Gas all have acreages.

“These basins have seen exploration activity since the early 1970s, with a number of sub-commercial discoveries,” Mr Bridges said.

“Both basins are considered prospective for gas, condensate and oil.”

Mr Bridges also said that NZ Petroleum & Minerals had also opened its block offer process for 2017, adding that the industry was now requesting industry nominations for new areas.

“These are trying times. We know commodity prices are cyclical, and hopefully we have reached the bottom of this cycle.”

“We also know that petroleum development is a long-term game and opportunities grasped now could have significant pay-offs in the decades to come.”