Oil and gas ten­der pe­riod has closed

The Southland Times - - NEWS - EU­GENE BONTHUYS

The Tak­itimu Moun­tain range has been taken out of a ex­plo­ration block of­fer af­ter sub­mis­sions by Nga¯i Tahu in Novem­ber last year.

The ten­der pe­riod for new petroleum ex­plo­ration per­mits through the Block Of­fer 2017 process has closed and any de­tails about any bids re­main un­der wraps.

The process is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to South­land, be­cause one of the on­shore ar­eas re­leased for ten­der cov­ers 3568 square kilo­me­tres of the re­gion and en­com­passes land around Te Anau, western South­land, and land south of the Hokonuis.

In the Block Of­fer 2017 doc­u­ments, New Zealand Petroleum and Min­er­als de­scribed the western South­land basin as be­ing prospec­tive for oil and gas but un­der-ex­plored.

A spokesman for the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment, which over­sees the ten­der process, said de­tails of the bids re­ceived could not be dis­cussed, be­cause of the com­mer­cial na­ture of the closed com­pet­i­tive ten­der process.

‘‘At this stage of the process, we are cur­rently as­sess­ing bids.

‘‘The as­sess­ment con­sid­ers the work the bid­der pro­poses to un­der­take [the work pro­gramme], their tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity to carry out that work, their com­pli­ance his­tory, and their likely abil­ity to meet New Zealand’s health, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments,’’ the spokesman said.

That meant even if tenders were re­ceived for the South­land re­lease area, it does not nec­es­sar­ily fol­low that a per­mit for petroleum ex­plo­ration will be granted.

The South­land block was one of eight re­leased for po­ten­tial ex­plo­ration, stretch­ing from the North­land-Reinga off­shore re­lease area in the north to the Great South-Can­ter­bury off­shore re­lease area, stretch­ing along the east coast from Christchurch to south of Ste­wart Is­land.

The 2016 Block Of­fer process re­sulted in only one new ex­plo­ration per­mit be­ing granted in spite of nu­mer­ous tenders be­ing re­ceived.

This was a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion when com­pared to the four per­mits is­sued at the con­clu­sion of the 2015 process, and the 15 per­mits is­sued in 2014.

Petroleum Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Cameron Madg­wick said ‘‘in re­la­tion to the level of in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing new per­mits com­pared to 2016, anec­do­tally, there is a grow­ing sense of op­ti­mism in the sec­tor glob­ally and in New Zealand’’.

‘‘The sec­tor is poised for ac­tion and ready for growth,’’ he said.

‘‘The op­por­tu­ni­ties that this rep­re­sents for the South­land econ­omy and its busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties are con­sid­er­able.

‘‘As we are not privy to in­for­ma­tion about any bids that may have been made, we can­not say for sure that this op­ti­mism will trans­late into ad­di­tional per­mits but we are con­fi­dent in the in­creased lev­els of ac­tiv­ity.’’

Ear­lier this year, David Mor­ri­son and Taranaki En­ergy Watch spokes­woman Sarah Roberts trav­elled to South­land to dis­cuss their con­cerns with farm­ers about the dan­gers of oil and gas ex­plo­ration.

At the time, Roberts said since per­mits had been given out in Taranaki, and cov­ered most of the re­gion, many landown­ers and res­i­dents had grow­ing con­cerns about health, noise, traf­fic, fumes, wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion and prop­erty de­val­u­a­tion.

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