Energy Minister Phil Heatley says 10 companies have won bids for the 23 blocks put up by the Government this year for oil and gas exploration.

A total of 13 blocks were bid on by 24 applicants and 10 have been accepted in the annual block offer.

One block had four separate bidders. Some had none.

Interest had come from domestic companies as well as companies from the netherlands, Canada, Austria, Australia, the United Statesd and Japan. The successful applicants will be named by Mr Heatley at Parliament today.


He told a business breakfast in Wellington this morning that when the Government first started out on the process in April he feared it would have only one bidder.

In the past, companies made applications for various areas and other companies were given seven days to say whether they were interested as well.

New Zealand had 18 basins and it produced from only one, Taranaki.

He told reporters later it was a good way for New Zealand to be explored.

If companies decided not develop, they passed on their findings to the Government. Those that decided to continue handed their information over but over a longer time period.

A bid is an exploration programme. Companies don't pay but a bid for a more extensive exploration programme would trump another for a smaller programme, presuming both companies were reputable.

Heatley was speaking at the launch of the fifth part of the Government's "business growth agenda." this one called "building natural resources."

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told the audience "the fundamental truth is if we are going to have more and better jobs here, we need more companies to invest here."

So far 289 initiatives had been outlined under the business growth agenda and the first six months of next year would see momentum build to implement the measures.

Finance Minister Bill English said there was not one single thing the Government should do - "there are 300 things."