A new player on the New Zealand oil and gas scene has been awarded an exploration permit on the East Coast under the Government's Block Offer 2013.
Singapore-based Mont D'Or will explore Permit 55789 - 890sq km inland from Gisborne.
Government agency New Zealand Oil and Gas said Mont D'Or had production in Indonesia and its executive director is Ann King who had 30 years of experience "across the technical arena and in running small companies".
A subsidiary of TAG Oil has gone into a joint venture on an adjoining block.
TAG's Eastern Petroleum has been jointly awarded 430sq km Permit 55770 with East West Petroleum.
East West is also Canada-based and has conventional and unconventional interests in Romania, California, Morocco and India.
TAG is exclusively focused on New Zealand and has had repeated success in Taranaki.
The Eastern and East West joint venture is TAG's second on the East Coast.
Apache Corporation pulled out of a deal in January, leaving TAG to go it alone.
East West holds an interest in three onshore Taranaki permits with TAG, which TAG operates and holds the remaining share.
Permit holders have to explore under given timeframes under the Government's "use it or lose it rules", otherwise the permit is revoked.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges announced the permits yesterday, along with eight others.
Five permits are for onshore in Taranaki and five are for offshore across the Reinga-Northland, Taranaki, and Great South-Canterbury Basins.
Collectively the permits represent about $62 million in committed expenditure on initial exploration which, if successful, could lead to further exploration work worth up to $720 million, Mr Bridges said.
"Today's announcement comes as we kick off one of the country's largest oil and gas exploration seasons, with 13 wells being drilled offshore and around 30 onshore. On conservative estimates, the industry is expected to spend $600 million to $755 million.
"The Government is committed to developing our oil, gas and mineral resources in a sensible, safe and environmentally responsible way. Block Offer 2013 is delivering on that."
Don't Frack the Bay chairman Ken Keys said Mr Bridges' comment on environmental responsibility was "bull****".
"There is not the safety net that should be essential in any such venture," he said.
Existing safety plans were short on detail "and the whole process undemocratic".
Consultation has started on Block Offer 2014, which includes 3143sq km, from Central Hawke's Bay to Manawatu, and 75,136sq km of ocean east of Pegasus Basin.