Taranaki is heading into the country's busiest ever period of oil and gas exploration, which may create 1700 jobs in the next six months.
Three massive drilling rigs will be sinking almost 30 wells offshore in the next 12 months, while onshore up to 70 wells are planned.
Texas oil company Anadarko plans to drill New Zealand's deepest well, in 1.5 kms of water, when drill ship, Noble Bob Douglas, arrives next month from Korea.
Austrian company OMV is operating two rigs in shallower waters, before leasing them out to other companies also in the Taranaki basin.
OMV's managing director Peter Zeilinger says it has started drilling its Manaia-2 well, part of a $500 million project.
"We're drilling three wells, three exploration appraisal wells, let's see what comes out but if one of them is a discovery, then we would be really pleased about that."