Export earnings from New Zealand's petroleum sector could increase tenfold by 2025, Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee told industry representatives today.

Speaking at the Biennial NZ Oil and Gas Outlook 2009 conference in Wellington, Mr Brownlee announced the Government's plans for "unlocking and maximising" New Zealand's petroleum potential.

The specific focus would be on exploration of New Zealand's offshore deepwater basins.

The Government wanted to ensure New Zealand was an attractive global destination for petroleum exploration and production investment, he said.

"New Zealand's largely unexplored petroleum resource could be one of the country's most significant economic opportunities."

Mr Brownlee said the petroleum sector accounted for about $3 billion per annum of New Zealand's export revenue.

"Should the estimated resources in our unexplored basins be developed, this could increase to $30 billion per annum in export revenue by 2025."

Crown receipts alone could increase to more than $10 billion per annum over the next 40 years, he said.

"The immediate focus must be on increasing exploration activity and improving the knowledge of our petroleum basins. The Government must be seen as pro-development of petroleum resources to attract major investments of global capital to support exploration activity."

Mr Brownlee said he was releasing for feedback today a proposed action plan setting out a series of additional actions the Government would implement to assist the development of the petroleum sector.