NZ hit by oil decline

NEW Zealand's income from its oil and gas production has fallen to below $NZ200 million ($A88 million), a victim of the lower oil price, maturing production and a lack of exploration success over the past decade.

NZ hit by oil decline

The Crown earned $193 million last year, down from $258 million in June 2015 and a peak of $542 million per annum in 2008.

The Pacific nation gets a large chunk of its export earnings from oil sales, but offshore exploration has dried up with large numbers of permits being relinquished since the last round of drilling in early 2014.

A Statistics New Zealand report showed offshore resources was the largest contributor to the marine economy, at 48% ($1.95 billion) in 2013.

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association CEO Cameron Madgwick said the report showed offshore oil and gas exploration and production is important to the economy and contributes more to both the marine economy and New Zealand's GDP than shipping, fisheries and aquaculture combined.

"There is strong potential for growth in the contribution that oil and gas exploration and production makes to our marine economy over the coming years," Madgwick said.

"Currently oil and gas production is concentrated in Taranaki, but there is genuine international excitement about New Zealand's petroleum potential with exploration currently occurring off the east coasts of both the North and South Islands."

The Taranaki Basin is just one of 17 underexplored basins in New Zealand. Statoil recently quit the Northland-Reinga Basin, but remains active in the East Coast-Pegasus Basin.

There is also acreage in the Canterbury and Great South basins that is covered by leases, although no offshore wells are planned in any of the offshore basins.

Madgwick said despite concerns from green groups, the oil and gas industry was "absolutely committed" to protecting NZ's precious marine environment.

"The impact on New Zealand's marine environment from oil and gas exploration and production is small. The industry is governed by extensive and stringent regulation and heavy oversight that ensures we operate safely and the impact on the immediate surroundings is kept to an absolute minimum," he said.

"Emissions from oil and gas production in New Zealand are relatively small. New Zealand's emissions profile is unique in the world, with nearly half of our greenhouse gases generated from agricultural activities.

"Expansion of oil and gas production will be an important contributor to growing New Zealand's economy, improving living standards, and helping generate new economic activity in some of our regions."

Despite the relative lack of exploration activity, the NZ government has just increased its petroleum and minerals permit fees to recover the costs of permit administration.

"Fees have not been substantially reviewed for some time, resulting in a widening gap between the cost of administering permits and what permit holders were paying" NZ Petroleum and Minerals general manager James Stevenson Wallace said.

NZP&M consulted on two options, one which would have recouped the gap over six years and another over a shorter period. The government has adopted the first option with minor adjustments to ease the impact on permit holders.

Exploration permits will now cost $7250 and development applications $30,250, while annual fees for prospecting permits will rise to $43,478.26.


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