GNS SCIENCE and a research program run out of the University of Waikato are the latest recipients of funding under the New Zealand government’s Energy and Minerals Research Fund.

These 48 new science research programs were funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) 2015 science investment round.

GNS, New Zealand’s leading geoscience and isotope research and consultancy services body, has received NZ$9.6 million from the government, to be allocated as NZ$2.4 million grants over four years.

Titled “Understanding petroleum source rocks, fluids, and plumbing systems in New Zealand basins: a critical basis for future oil and gas discoveries,” the research program will cover both proven and frontier sedimentary basins and will seek to engage with a broad range of end-users and stakeholders, including community groups and iwi.

Funding from the program will be used to develop new workstation-ready data products for the exploration industry that it says will provide new knowledge and help to reduce the uncertainties involved in petroleum exploration.

These products aim to improve the understanding of the rock formations that generate petroleum, as well as the relationships between petroleum fluids and their ‘source rocks’ and the way petroleum moves and is trapped in sub-surface structures.

GNS Science will lead the research with the support of a consortium that includes four New Zealand universities, four overseas universities, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).

In addition, seven New Zealand PhD students be funded under the program, appointed to work on particular aspects of the research.

GNS has also succeeded in getting co-funding of NZ$100,000-a-year from oil and gas exploration companies Anadarko, ExxonMobil, OMV, and Shell – three of which are already operating in New Zealand.

Outputs from this research will be used to inform decisions on new acreage for permitting to attract new exploration investment in New Zealand, GNS said.

Also funded under the program is a research program led by Peter Kamp of the University of Waikato, entitled “Cretaceous tectonic transition from convergence to extension in New Zealand: Implications for basin development, paleogeography and hydrocarbon plays.”

Aiming to develop a modern understanding of the tectonic environment in which Cretaceous basins formed and were infilled, the study has been awarded a grant of NZ$2.4 million over four years.

“The new data and information will provide a regional context and understanding that will assist exploration companies in their exploration efforts,which are typically undertaken in permit areas that lie with sedimentary basins,” a statement from the university said.

All new research contracts are to commence on 1 October.