Petroleum resource potential
There has been oil and gas activity in New Zealand for more than 150 years but we still have much untapped potential.
At present, Taranaki is our only producing region, but in recent years there has been significant exploration activity in a number of our offshore basins. Despite this increase in activity, New Zealand remains under-explored – and in many areas, un-explored. Even in the onshore and offshore Taranaki basin, production is within a 10,000km2 area – only three per cent of the 330,000km2 basin.
It is generally recognized that there is considerable potential for commercial hydrocarbon discoveries within New Zealand’s vast estate of approximately 6,000,000 km2.
In 2009, the Government implemented a proactive and targeted initiative, the Petroleum Action Plan, with the aim of growing New Zealand’s petroleum sector. This centred around ensuring that New Zealand is a highly attractive global destination for petroleum exploration and production investment.
In 2012 the annual Block Offer tender was introduced as the only means of granting petroleum exploration permits. It offers permit holders a annual, cycle of access to acreage, while allowing the Government to strategically manage allocation.
We have also introduced a more systemic approach to providing the latest well and seismic data. In addition we have commissioned specific reports and studies to better understand selected aspects of our petroleum geology.
While the Government has collected geophysical data over the years, there has been a notable increase in offshore multi-client prospecting around New Zealand since 2013. This followed changes to the Crown Minerals Act which extended the confidentiality period for speculative data from 5 to 15 years. Multi-client surveys have helped support Block Offers - as they can be used for bids or to meet work programme commitments.
Strong interest in previous Block Offer permitting rounds has demonstrated the impact of these changes and proved that New Zealand is a serious investment destination for oil and gas explorers.
New Zealand has 18 sedimentary basins with known or potential hydrocarbons located both onshore and offshore including deep water beneath the country's extensive continental shelf.
There is evidence that petroleum generation and migration has, and is taking place in many of these basins. This is reflected in both commercial and sub-commercial discoveries, and hydrocarbon shows in exploration wells. The petroleum systems present in these basins share many common characteristics, due to the stratigraphic distribution of potential source, reservoir, and seal rocks.
However, the diversity of tectonic environments in New Zealand has produced differences in the timing of maturation, migration history and trapping styles.
For more comprehensive information read our New Zealand petroleum basins booklets:
The Petroleum Exploration Data Pack contains a broad representation of publicly available data on a portable hard drive. It features a large selection of data, interpretation projects, reports and studies and is updated annually.