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New Zealand: A High-potential Energy Frontier

New Zealand: A High-potential Energy Frontier

Recognized as one of the few remaining untapped oil and gas frontiers in the world, New Zealand is attracting an increasing amount of investor attention. And being an economically developed country that encourages companies to explore, develop and produce reserves has ensured its status as an investor favorite moving forward.


New Zealand, an island nation located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, is comprised of two primary land masses — the North Island and the South Island — as well as an extensive subsea area over which the country's government exercises authority.

The oil and gas sector is primarily centred on and around the Taranaki Basin on the North Island's west coast. Onshore and offshore exploration activity is also being undertaken on the North Island's east coast and on the Great South Basin, which is situated on the South Island's south coast.

New Zealand boasts one of the world's wealthier economies; it includes both a progressive industrial base and modern infrastructure. The country's population of approximately 4 million people is predominantly English speaking. The largest city in the country is Auckland and its capital is Wellington. The nation's economy is rich in natural resources and major exports include dairy products, meat, wool, wood and oil.


Oil exploration and discoveries in New Zealand can be traced back before 1865, when early settlers reported that oily scum on Ngamotu beach in New Plymouth required locals to wipe their boots and lift their dresses when walking along the sand, according to a Venture Taranaki Trust report. At the time, oil was literally flowing off the beach.

Interestingly, the Alpha well in Taranaki is considered the first official oil well in the Commonwealth, and one of the very first in the world, the report also notes. But it was the discovery of Kapuni (1959) and Maui (1969), and the arrival of major players like Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A,LSE:RDSA), that propelled the nation into the modern era of energy exploration. When the Maui gas field was discovered in a joint venture consisting of Shell, BP (NYSE:BP,LSE:BP) and Todd Petroleum, it was one of the six largest gas fields in the western world.

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