THE NATIONAL Party’s resounding win in the recent New Zealand general elections means the NZ Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference 2014 can be held unhindered by political uncertainties and at a time of almost unprecedented industry activity.

During the various political party pre-election campaigns, the Green Party raised the spectre of banning all deepwater drilling and a moratorium on all hydraulic fracturing should both it and the Labour Party win enough votes in the mid-September election to form a coalition government.

Labour also proposed to stop new exploration and development, primarily drilling activities, within marine mammal sanctuaries, including marine reserves that encompass some of the Taranaki coast and its waters that are the last known place of the endangered Maui’s dolphins.

However, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has said any such ban would hit the near-shore Pohokura gas-condensate field particularly hard as it already lies within a marine mammal sanctuary.

It is known that Pohokura operator Shell Exploration NZ and partners Todd Energy and Austrian giant OMV are already planning more subsurface studies, probable additional seismic surveys and likely further drilling to test other structures and formations within the Pohokura mining licence, including the promising Okoki Prospect.

Anadarko Petroleum will welcome the fact that the Greens’ proposed ban on deepwater drilling will now not go ahead given that Anadarko, a relative newcomer to New Zealand, has so far drilled only two deepwater wells – the Romney-1 wildcat, the first well in the Deepwater Taranaki basin, and Caravel-1 in the offshore Canterbury basin – and is likely to drill more deepwater wells later this decade.

Houston-headquartered Anadarko recently increased its stake in its Deepwater Taranaki basin lease PEP 38451 from 48% to 53% by buying Global Resource Holdings’ 5% stake for an undisclosed sum. However, Global owner Denver-based Randall Thompson is keeping his 5% interest.

As well, onshore operators that currently frack some of their wells will also be pleased the Greens’ proposed fracking moratorium will now not go ahead, particularly Todd Energy with its extensive Mangahewa expansion project just inland from the Pohokura field.

Todd has so far drilled fewer than 10 of the planned 27 development wells for its Mangahewa field and further fracking operations may be necessary for another 10 years or so.

The Greens also offered to invest NZ$10 million to strengthen the country’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and a further NZ$10 million to promote the sales of electric vehicles, which still can only travel about 100km before having to be recharged – great for cities but not for any long distance rural journeys. They further claimed the National government was subsidising oil companies by more than NZ$56 million a year.

With National winning 61 seats in Parliament, unprecedented under the country’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system, it could govern alone.

However, as it has to supply the Speaker of the House of Representatives, National will probably form a coalition government involving itself, the Maori Party, Act New Zealand Epsom MP David Seymour and perennial Ohariu MP and United First leader Peter Dunne.

National has also made it plain it wants to accelerate petroleum exploration and development through new data acquisition programs and attracting more multinational explorers, such as Woodside Petroleum and Norway’s Statoil, to increase the chances of more major discoveries and to boost our dwindling oil exports.

So global service companies operating in New Zealand, as well as “home-grown” companies in the major centres, particularly New Plymouth, energy capital of the country, should f lock to the NZ Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference, to explore the opportunities opening up for them free from any possible political interference.

The Exhibition will be held in New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium for 2014 from 22 to 23 October.