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West Coast oil and gas permits issued

The West Coast is on the map for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand.

The Government yesterday awarded 15 new oil and gas exploration permits.

Among them were onshore permits for Mosman Oil & Gas to explore in the Victoria Forest Park, near Reefton, and inland and south of Greymouth.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said it was "great".

"There has been oil exploration over here off and on for over 100 years. They know oil is here somewhere, they just have to keep drilling. These things have a lot of spinoffs. With a bit of luck, they'll strike it," he said.

The permits involve a combined commitment to spend about $110 million on initial exploration. If successful, that could lead to further spending of up to $1 billion.

United States oil giant Chevron was one of three new entrants in the latest Block Offer.

The company employs more than 64,000 people and produces about 2.6 million barrels of oil a day around the world.

Energy minister Simon Bridges said the three new companies continued to cement New Zealand's reputation as a key destination for oil and gas exploration.

The Green Party called the permits irresponsible.

Energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said the Government had given the green light to drilling in the Maui's dolphin sanctuary and Victoria Forest Park.

"National is pushing the Maui's [dolphin] to extinction," Hughes said.

"Oil exploration and Maui's dolphins don't mix."

Buller mayor Garry Howard could not be reached.

Chevron will partner with Norway's Statoil in three offshore permits off the East Coast of the North Island.

The area they will explore in the Pegasus and East Coast Basins covers more than 25,300 square kilometres.

Chevron said they were "frontier" basins in water depths ranging from 800 metres to 3000 metres.

Austrian oil giant OMV has picked up a permit off the North Island's East Coast, to the north of the Chevron/Statoil permits.

Chevron and Statoil are new neighbours of Anadarko, which in 2012 was awarded two exploration permits for adjoining blocks in the Pegasus Basin off the Wellington and Wairarapa coasts.

The Press
Published on:
December 9, 2014
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