Oil hunters turn to West Coast

Doesn’t it feel good to be considered one of the most industry-friendly countries by a Petroleum CEO? 

Petroleum explorers have laid claim to over 15,000 square kilometres of the offshore West Coast basin, as oil hits record prices and nears peak production.

Crown Minerals has granted the New Zealand subsidiary of a United States oil company, Grande Energy, permission to explore an 11,810sq km largely offshore area between Franz Josef Glacier and Haast, and a narrow strip of coastal land between the towns. It is the first offshore prospect by the Fort Worth company.

Widespread Energy, which is listed on the New Zealand Exchange’s alternative market (NZAX), has applied for a permit to explore a 3278sq km area north of the Grande permit, meaning the West Coast from Punakaiki south to Haast has been or is being claimed for oil exploration. But no-one could or would speculate on the potential size of the oil resource off the West Coast.

Under its work programme, Grande Energy of New Zealand must get new two-dimensional (2D) seismic data from at least 525sq km of undersea land in the first two years, and do a three-dimensional (3D) seismic programme and drill an exploration well by the fourth year.

Grande Energy president Bob Gaudin said it was difficult to find a place as industry-friendly as New Zealand, with as favourable an economic and political climate.

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