Oil giant Anadarko has relinquished one of its Canterbury basin offshore exploration permits - off the coast of Oamaru - but added a further 6000sq km to its other adjacent permitted area.
In September, Houston-based Anadarko committed to test drilling the first of potentially two deep water oil and gas wells off the coast; costing between $50 million-$100 million in total.
Anadarko has contracted a new drill ship, the Noble Bill Douglas, to come to New Zealand for its maiden drilling programme, beginning with one hole off Oamaru in November or December next year, shifting to another prospect in Taranaki then possibly returning to Canterbury, depending on the earlier results.
Anadarko has relinquished the first permit to Government permitting agency New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, but increased its stake in PEP 38264 by adding 6000sq km of the relinquished permit, which totals 17,492sq km now.
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Alongside 50:50 joint venture partner Origin Energy, Anadarko corporate affairs spokesman Alan Saey said the two tracts were combined to "streamline" the permit holding.
In August, New Zealand Oil & Gas relinquished its permit to drill the Barque prospect off the coast of Oamaru, having been unable to find a buy-in partner to assist with costs.
Tenders closed earlier this month for 23 onshore and offshore blocks around the country.