Energy Minister Encourages Gas Exploration

  • Max Bradford

Rising gas consumption highlights the need for more oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, Energy Minister Max Bradford says.

Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday show gas production in the March 1997 year was 18.9 per cent higher than the previous March year.

Mr Bradford has called for a report to establish whether New Zealand is easily accessible on reasonable terms to international gas and oil exploration companies.

"We must find more oil and gas reserves in New Zealand. Otherwise we face some significant issues in our energy future," Mr Bradford said.

Per capita New Zealand was one of the heaviest users of gas in the world, yet it had a limited amount of remaining gas reserves, Mr Bradford said.

Crude oil imports currently cost New Zealand about $1 million a day, but that amount was predicted to double in the next four years without oil discoveries within New Zealand.

"Competition among nations to attract oil and gas explorers has seldom, if ever, been more intense. We need to create an investment climate which ensures New Zealand gets its share of the international exploration dollar.

Mr Bradford said the Government had created a regime which allowed explorers ready access to New Zealand's petroleum basins.

"However, I am concerned by reports from some companies that New Zealand is still not regarded as an easy place to get exploration permits.

"I have asked my officials to look into this, and I will be watching the situation carefully to ensure the door to New Zealand's petroleum basins is seen as wide open by exploration companies," Mr Bradford said.

New Zealand had a good drilling success rate, but was under-explored for hydro carbons, he said.

At present petroleum exploration is currently being undertaken within seven of New Zealand's petroleum basins. In total there are 37 exploration permits and 11 mining licenses in effect.

In the past explorers evaluating opportunities in New Zealand had been concerned about difficulties marketing gas, Mr Bradford said.

"Obviously, with gas running out, this is no longer be the case. The window of opportunity for gas exploration is now, while the opportunity for oil is ever present.

"Our survival in a globalised world economy, our standard of living, depends on continuously improving New Zealand's competitiveness. The petroleum sector plays a large part in that."