September 24, 2008

Bumper Taranaki Exploration to Start

A BONANZA of oil and gas exploration activity is set to take place throughout Taranaki, with explorers poised to spend at least $100 million conducting seismic surveys and drilling wells.

Associate Energy Minister Harry Duynhoven announced last night nine onshore exploration permits covering at least 50 per cent of Taranaki's land area.

While some of the permits have been taken up by existing energy players, including Todd Exploration and Greymouth Petroleum, other permits involve companies new to New Zealand -- and they look to have sufficient financial grunt and expertise to help kick off a new era in drilling activity.

Mr Duynhoven said the fact the new entrants were keen to explore in Taranaki showed how confident they were of the region's huge exploration potential.

Features of the new onshore permits include:

* Todd Exploration partnered with state- owned electricity company Mighty River Power to explore a large block covering all the land to the west of Mt Taranaki.

* Greymouth Petroleum has picked up three exploration blocks around Inglewood and south to Stratford.

* A giant area of eastern Taranaki land, stretching from north of Urenui to south of Patea, has been awarded to various joint ventures involving a mixture of New Zealand and Australian companies.

Mr Duynhoven said 20 wells were proposed to be drilled within the next five years, looking for both shallow and deep targets.

The holders of four of the permits are committed to drilling within the next 24 months.

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