ONSHORE oil and gas activity in New Zealand is more diverse than it has ever been – with more explorers and more service companies, both domestic and multinationals, showing renewed interest in frontier basins.

Gone are the days when only a handful of players – from the government’s Petrocorp Exploration, Shell New Zealand and this country’s largest private explorer Todd Energy – dominated the onshore sector.

Petrocorp no longer exists though Shell and Todd are still major players, both onshore and offshore. Now there is also a myriad of smaller companies that are active – largely in Taranaki but also in such frontier areas as the East Coast, Canterbury and Westland.

Service companies used to consist largely of the local branches of such multinationals – but today there are home grown companies, such as Custom Controls, Electropar and Kernohan Engineering.

Sometimes these companies, with “typical Taranaki ingenuity” develop specialist products for not only the domestic sector but also for exporting to Australia and other countries – such as Spill Control NZ.

There are also more local recruitment agencies and even a few New Zealand branches of multinationals catering to this country’s expanding oil and gas sector.

But a number New Zealanders now ply their trade as consultants, with most of them based in New Plymouth, the energy capital of this country, as the complex geology of the Taranaki basin, and others, continue to frustrate large, medium and junior players.

Some explorers are also now following overseas trends, such as drilling for unconventional shale oil and gas in places like the onshore East Coast.

Explorers and service companies are also embracing overseas technology such as the so-called “cyber rigs” and the latest horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, often adapted to New Zealand conditions and geology.

Explorers usually target oil, to boost the country’s declining crude production, and there is a limited market for any additional gas found due to the very small market of about 180 Petajoules per annum.

However, Taranaki remains the main focus for explorers, with much activity occurring in sight of the 2518 metre Mt Taranaki that dominates the region.

But if Mt Taranaki dominates the region, New Plymouth dominates New Zealand’s oil and gas sector, as the home base for so much of the nation’s industry.

For that reason, Swan Exhibitions is proud to bring the New Zealand Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference back to TSB Stadium for 2014.

Since it was first established in 1993, the Exhibition has been the idea venue to source new products and services and to meet and network with industry peers.

To be held from 22 to 23 October, the event is not to be missed for anyone who works in New Zealand’s oil and gas industry.