11 Feb 2012

Government to expand oil and gas exploration

9:27 am on 11 February 2012

The Government is planning a big increase in oil and gas exploration.

It wants to add 40,000 square kilometres of land and seabed to existing areas approved for exploration.

At this stage the plan is a draft only but if approved, after regional and iwi consultation, oil could be searched for in several new regions.

These areas include Southland, West Coast, Tasman, offshore Wellington and south Waikato.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals says these areas have a good chance of containing oil and gas, based on seismic data.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand says oil and gas are New Zealand's fourth biggest export earner and it welcomes further expansion.

However, it cautions against being too confident until more work is done saying that nine out of 10 wells drilled in New Zealand have historically been dry.