13 Mar 2014

Anadarko off, but focus still on south

7:41 pm on 13 March 2014

The petroleum industry says it's not letting up the search for potentially massive reserves of gas off New Zealand's southern coast.

US oil giant Anadarko's summer of drilling is over, after its drill ship apparently found only small shows of natural gas in a $150 million deepwater test well off Otago's coast and is preparing to leave New Zealand.

The confirmation that Anadarko is pulling out comes after leaked information indicated that the Texas-based company had struck hard rock, and little or no oil, with a deepwater exploration hole it drilled in the Canterbury Basin, about 60km from Dunedin.

Anadarko said some preliminary shows, or indications of natural gas were found, but months of analysis were still required before the results are clear. Despite this, Anadarko's New Zealand manager Alan Seay said it won't be drilling a second follow-up hole it planned.

"It's the end of the drilling programme for us and it's gone very well from the point of view of actually drilling two deepwater wells in New Zealand."

Mr Seay said the first hole is being plugged and would be abandoned. The New Zealand crew are starting to come off the Noble Bob Douglas, which would now head to the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days.

Despite this, the chief executive of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association said the search in the Canterbury and Great South basins remains very attractive to companies to explore.

David Robinson said both have given shows of petroleum in the past, gas was discovered there in the 1970s by Hunt Petroleum, and the industry's interest remains high.

Mr Robinson said the industry's supporters need to keep the faith that the south can be the next Taranaki.