1 May 2012

NZOG interested in another Taranaki permit

6:19 pm on 1 May 2012

New Zealand Oil and Gas says it is still very interested in pursuing another permit near Taranaki, despite questions about who might eventually own it and the potentially high cost of drilling a well there.

The company sold $34.4 million of oil and gas from its Kupe and Tui fields in the three months to the end of March.

It had $187 million of cash at the end of the quarter and it continues to look for new ways to expand its portfolio.

Earlier this year it made a conditional offer to buy a 15% stake in the Kaheru exploration permit off the south Taranaki coast, but now there are questions about the permit's future ownership structure.

Australia-based ROC, which owned half of the permit, recently announced it was pulling out.

New Zealand Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight says while that is disappointing, it gives the company the opportunity to participate in discussions about the future ownership of the joint venture.

"We still think there are a number of parties who are interested in getting in and parties who are likely to be attracted to it given there's potentially a greater ownership stake now on the table."

He says if the joint venture decides to go ahead and drill a well it could be quite expensive depending on how much it costs to bring a drilling rig to New Zealand.

Mr Knight says drilling in some parts of the permit could cost between U$25 and US$30 million while drilling in a deeper, more challenging, area could cost up to US$50 million.

Meanwhile, the company is also trying to find international companies interesting in buying part of its Barque permit in the Canterbury basin and the Kakapo prospect in the Taranaki Basin.

It is also examining seismic data from an area in Tunisia and expects to start drilling a well in its Indonesian permit shortly.

Shares in New Zealand Oil and Gas fell 1 cent to 77 cents on Monday.