On 4 December, New Zealand awarded ten permits for oil and gas exploration in Block Offer 2013, across the Reinga-Northland, Taranaki, and Great South-Canterbury basins. Five are offshore permits, five onshore.
Australia's Woodside Energy Holdings and New Zealand Oil and Gas were jointly awarded two offshore permits - one in the Taranaki region, the country's only petroleum-producing area, and another off the southern tip off the South Island.
New Zealand Oil & Gas also received one offshore Great South Basin South-Canterbury permit on its own.
New Zealand Octanex received a permit to explore off Taranaki.
Norway's Statoil Lambda Netherlands BV was given a permit to explore off the northwest coast of the North Island: Reinga-Northland.
Five onshore permits were also awarded.
New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said Thursday, "The award of exploration permits today is another important step toward unlocking New Zealand's oil and gas potential, both on and offshore."
Bridges said international and national energy companies plan to drill more than a dozen offshore wells in the license areas, and that the energy sector is a leading contributor to the national economy.
"Expenditure in the sector is at historical highs," he said. "In 2012 alone, nearly NZ$1.2 billion was invested in exploration and development."
In a few months, Anadarko Petroleum will begin drilling the country's first deepwater wells in 15 years - one in the Taranaki Basin and another off the east coast of the South Island.
In September, Bridges said the government would put five offshore areas on the auction block next year.
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