Tuesday, 11 December 2012 13:58
More than $750 million could be invested in New Zealand over the next five years by companies searching for oil and gas, says Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley.
The government on Tuesday awarded 10 exploration permits to seven bidders.
Seven permits are for the productive Taranaki Basin, two others have been awarded in the unexplored Pegasus Basin off Cook Strait and the final permit is in the Great South Basin off the Southland coast.
Five of the seven Taranaki permits are onshore with the remaining permits all offshore.
Mr Heatley says the awarding of the five-year exploration permits came after strong interest in the block offer.
He says $82 million had been committed by the bidders and success could lead to a further $776m being spent within five years.
Mr Heatley says the three permits for outside the Taranaki Basin means other areas may get a slice of the industry.
"The oil and gas industry in Taranaki contributes $2 billion to our GDP and provides over 5000 jobs. Other areas can follow in Taranaki's footsteps," he said.
But the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association, while welcoming the permits, warns that it may be some time before production starts.
"Today is really just the start of a process to establish whether these blocks have any oil and gas reserves. Production from a successful discovery will be at least seven years away for offshore permits," chief executive David Robinson said.
Twenty-three blocks were up for grabs in the offer, and only 13 attracted bids.
Greenpeace says only three permits of the 11 on offer for deep-sea exploration were granted.
"The lack of interest in the permits is a very strong signal that the Government's deep sea oil programme is not the economic boom that was promised," climate campaigner Simon Boxer said.
Last week Brazilian oil giant Petrobras handed back its exploration permit for the Raukumara Basin off the East Cape.
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