The New Zealand government has opened eight new areas for oil and gas exploration in its 2014 Block Offer, unveiled at a petroleum conference in Wellington by Energy Minister Simon Bridges.
A total of 405,000 square kilometres of exploration acreage is on offer and includes formally opening the previously unidentified New Caledonia Basin for bids, where Shell New Zealand has already been awarded an exploration licence out of sequence with the block offer system.
“The three onshore and five offshore release areas on offer make up a tender that ranges from smaller appraisal blocks in well-explored areas containing previously drilled wells, through to large blocks with running room in frontier regions where little to no exploration has taken place,” said Bridges.
The only completely new areas to be offered are onshore on the West Coast of the South Island, covering a total area of 6,752.2 square kilometres, covering territory in the northern portion of the West Coast and stretching through to behind Nelson.
Five offshore release areas in the Reinga-Northland, Taranaki, New Caledonia, Pegasus-East Coast, and Great South-Canterbury Basins are also being offered for bids which close on Sept. 25, five days after the general election.
Shell is planning wells in the Great South Basin in the 2014/15 summer drilling season.
The onshore Taranaki blocks include areas near the producing Kapuni, Tariki-Ahuroa, and McKee fields, with bids for areas of up to 250 square kilometres on offer. Other onshore areas allow bids for blocks of up to 1,000 square kilometres, reflecting their immature status.
The block offer announcements coincide with Monday’s release from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, which further confirms the scientific evidence that human-induced climate change, much of it related to the consumption of fossil fuels, is now unavoidable and that measures to adapt to its onset will be needed, as well as to reduce its impact.
Bridges acknowledged the issue, saying “we need to reduce carbon emissions from our energy use and respond to climate change” but that “fossil fuels will remain an important part of the mix” for at least another two decades or more.
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