7 Mar 2013

East Coast exploration could match Taranaki

10:37 pm on 7 March 2013

The East Coast region of the North Island could become another Taranaki if onshore oil and gas exploration takes hold.

The report, commissioned by the Government and eight councils from Gisborne to Tararua, was released on Thursday on the benefit, impacts and risks of petroleum development in the region.

The East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study was carried out by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and says there is no reason exploration in the East Coast couldn't match or better Taranaki.

The study paints a picture of five scenarios, ranging from small-scale exploration through to high-volume production.

It estimates small-scale exploration would add $360 million to the economy and provide employment for 199 people, while a large-scale development could add $18 billion to the economy and create 2347 jobs.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is pitching it somewhere in the middle on a par with Taranaki, where about $2 billion goes to gross domestic product and supports about 5000 jobs.

Mr Joyce said on Thursday it is up to oil and gas exploration companies to decide if they want to be involved and for the community to decide if it wants it.

He said the report would hopefully open discussion on the idea of exploration, and it is important that the region assesses the economic potential.

The minister said if significant oil and gas was discovered in the region, it would make a huge difference to the local and national economy.

The report's authors say there is only a 1% chance of large-scale, high-volume development, and the most likely scenario is there will be no commercial development on the East Coast, even if oil is found.