Lobby groups opposed to offshore oil drilling feel they influenced Statoil's decision to pull out of the Reinga Basin - but the Government says it was only about economics.

"Statoil have advised us their decision is purely technical, that in their view the latest seismic survey data has shown little likelihood of finding natural gas and/or oil in that part of the Reinga Basin," Ministry of National Manager Petroleum for New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, Josh Adams said.

However, Statoil's survey work had provided valuable information about a previously little known seabed.

"We now have a much better understanding of the geology of this area thanks to Statoil's investment in data gathering," Mr Adams said.


"The data will be shared with MBIE and made publicly available. It helps build a picture of the geology of the broader area and can be used by researchers as well as other petroleum explorers."

Statoil can also sell the data to other explorers worldwide who may be interested in this area, he said.

The company's Vice-president exploration Pal Haremo and New Zealand country manager Brynjulv Klove made the announcement they were quitting the Reinga Basin search in Kaitaia last week, ahead of publicly releasing it on Friday.

Mr Klove said that seismic data gathered over the last three years suggested there was only a low chance of making an economic oil or gas discovery.

The company had worked hard to establish positive relationships with iwi and community leaders, local politicians and businesses in Northland, Mr Klove said.

That was why the company wanted to break the news in Kaitaia first, he said.

"We have always been here to inform, listen and explain."

Northland Greenpeace representative Mike Smith said he believed the company had heard the voice of the people opposing their plans, although that was not why Statoil was quitting the area.

Mr Smith said while the pressure was now off the Reinga Basin, other areas, such as off East Cape, were not yet safe from oil companies' interests.