20 Feb 2020

OMV comes up dry in Great South Basin

6:35 pm on 20 February 2020

Drilling for oil and gas in deep seas off the east coast of the South Island has turned up no significant find.

A drilling rig commissioned by oil giant OMV arrives in New Zealand to drill 12 exploratory drilling wells off the coast of Taranaki. Credit: Geoff Reid

An OMV exploratory well. Photo: Supplied / Greenpeace / Geoff Reid

The Austrian-based OMV said the Tawhaki-1 exploration well in the Great South Basin was dry.

"The Tawhaki-1 exploration well was safely completed this week and preliminary indications are that there has not been a commercial-scale discovery."

It said it would do further analysis and update on its findings. The well is being plugged and abandoned.

The well was drilled in waters 1300 metres deep about 140 kilometres south-east of the bottom of the South Island.

It had been by environmental groups, and protesters occupied a support vessel for the programme in Timaru last November.

The Great South Basin has been explored sporadically over the past 50 years, with hydrocarbons often struck but nothing found in commercial quantities.

OMV has previously estimated the Great South Basin might hold as much as the equivalent of 3.6 billion barrels of oil and gas.

It drilled the well under an existing permit, extended to July next year, issued before the current government banned any new permits for offshore exploration.

Several exploration permits are still current, with New Zealand Oil & Gas and Beach Energy holding several for for prospects off the north-Otago coast.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs