Energy Minister Simon Bridges agrees with some of the messages of protestors outside a petroleum summit being held in Auckland today.

Environmental activists want the government to pull the plug on encouraging oil exploration - particularly in deep water - and concentrate on building a low carbon economy.

"I think the protestors have a real point. We should be excited about the renewable possibilities or as I call it the renewable advantage that we have - it is immense," said Bridges.

The government is hoping more big overseas explorers will be attracted to the country.


Since 2012 the government has granted 35 exploration permits throughout the country.

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Figures released last week figures showed more than 80 per cent of the country's electricity was generated using renewable fuels - water, wind and geothermal heat.

Bridges is a supporter of using electricity to power vehicles but he said today it would be wrong to ignore the non-renewables.

"I do think like the protestors we have to transition to a lower carbon economy but we can't turn off the tap on non -renewables overnight," he said on the sidelines of the Advantage New Zealand Petroleum Summit .

"'It is very clear that the world will continue to need both renewables and non-renewables."

A significant gas find in New Zealand could also be good in the climate change equation.

"If we were to see significant gas finds in New Zealand that would be replacing coal which in climate change terms could be a very good thing."

Bridges released details of the 2015 Block Offer where explorers can bid to work in new areas opened up by the government.

Two onshore areas in the West Coast Basin and one in Taranaki have been offered in the 2015 Block Offer. There are four offshore areas in the Reigna-Northland Basin, Taranaki Basin, Pegasus Basin and Great South-Canterbury Basin.

The total acreage included in the tender is 429,298 square kilometres - with just over 4000 square kilometres onshore.

See more details of the block offer here.
See individual maps of the areas here.

"Despite the price downturn oil still significant for regional development and royalties.

There's no question that oil and gas is a difficult long term gain and it takes a lot of time. What we try to do is maximise our opportunities by opening up areas."

New Zealand had the fifth largest exclusive economic zone in the world but only one of 18 basins had been significantly explored.

The minister said it was important to do the seismic work and other pre-drilling work to get a sense of what's there and overseas companies were largely funding this.

"In a sense it is like finding a needle in a haystack but it does maximise our opportunities," said Bridges.

The fall in oil prices since the middle of last year had been a "bump in the road" but oil exploration was a long term play and prices were bound to recover, he said

2015 Block Offer
•Total area of 429,298sq km
•Just over 4000sq km onshore.
•Two onshore areas in the West Coast Basin and one in Taranaki. Four offshore areas in the Reinga-Northland Basin, Taranaki Basin, Pegasus Basin and Great South-Canterbury Basin.