“The rationale for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand is now stronger than it has been for many years … a lot of players are snapping up acreage that is up for grabs,” Stone told PetroleumNews.net from Wellington.
He said it was encouraging that such established players were expanding their exploration efforts in the Taranaki Basin, New Zealand’s only producing region.
“All of them have assets that are already producing or are about to produce and all of them are wanting to expand – and they are well-positioned to do so,” he said.
Maui operator Shell Todd Oil Services has applied – on behalf of partners Shell Exploration New Zealand, Todd Energy and OMV – for a 213.6 square kilometre block (PEP 38452) nestled against the Maui gas field’s southeast flank.
STOS spokesperson Jacqueline Baker this morning said the company would not comment on the block bid until early next week.
Stone said it was interesting the Maui partners were looking to possibly extend the life of the field beyond 2014 through this new acreage.
Meanwhile, Tui Area operator AWE has applied for a 644sq.km block (PEP 38499) immediately south of the Tui mining licence PMP 38158 and west of Maui.
AWE spokesman Garry Marsden declined to comment on his company’s application.
The Tui Area partners, led by AWE, are developing the Tui, Amokura and Pateke oil pools at a cost of $US225 million ($A285.5 million). AWE also operates the nearby exploration permits PEP 38481-483 for various joint ventures.
AWE asset manager Eric Matthews has long believed in westward migration of hydrocarbons from Maui.
Kupe partner Genesis has applied for a 361.1sq.km block (PEP 38454) off Kawhia, immediately north of the PEP 38729 licence, held by Origin Energy and New Zealand Oil & Gas.
Genesis spokesman Richard Gordon told PNN that the state-owned gas and electricity player’s application was essentially over the old PEP 38478 licence that former partners NZOG and Origin relinquished in June 2005.
“It’s potentially a large gas reserve but it could be difficult to recover the gas,” said Gordon.
NZOG had said the attraction of Mangatoa, with its possible 3 trillion cubic feet of gas, was offset by the significant risks associated with obtaining adequate gas flows from a tight reservoir.
Gordon said Genesis was planning to shoot some 3D seismic and later, depending on results, drill an exploration well.
“It is a punt on a field with potentially very big upside,” he said.
“Like our other fuel development activity, we would look to partner with an operator in the long term. If there are commercial quantities of gas there and it is recoverable, it would be added to our growing gas portfolio.”
Gordon last month told PNN that Genesis was increasing its upstream expertise – seeking to employ a liquefied natural gas project manager, upstream fuels manager, senior fuels analyst and upstream fuels analyst.
The Maui partners are Shell Exploration NZ (83.75%), Todd (6.25%), and Austrian firm OMV (10%).
The Kupe partners are operator Origin (50%), Genesis (31%), NZOG (15%) and Mitsui E&P NZ (4%).
The Tui (PMP 38158) partners are operator AWE NZ (42.5%), Mitsui E&P NZ (35%), NZOG (12.5%) and Pan Pacific Petroleum (10%).
The PEP 38481-482 partners are operator AWE NZ (40%), Shell NZ (through Energy Western Holdings) (20%), OMV NZ (25%), and Todd Petroleum Mining (15%).
The PEP 38483 partners are operator AWE NZ (44.317%), NZOG (18.864%), Mitsui E&P NZ (22.728%) and Pan Pacific (14.091%).