Petrobras enters New Zealand with exploration permit

Brazil’s Petrobras International Braspetro BV has been awarded an exploration permit in the frontier Raukumara basin off the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, June 2 -- Brazil’s Petrobras International Braspetro BV has been awarded an exploration permit in the frontier Raukumara basin off the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island.

It is Petrobras’s first entry into the country and the first award of a permit in this region.

Permit PEP 52707 is valid for 5 years and covers an area of 12,333 sq km, which is nearly half the area within the entire Raukumara basin.

The basin lies at the northern end of the East Coast basin and is bound to the east by the East Cape Ridge and to the west by the Kermadec Ridge.

Water depths range from coastal to more than 2,400 m in the northern reaches.

New Zealand gazetted two blocks in the Raukumara basin in December 2008 and closed the offer at the end of January.

Petrobras submitted a bid that includes collection of seismic reflection data over both blocks. The subsequent permit award comprises all of Block 2 and a portion of Block 1.

The work program contains a number of options. The company has undertaken to acquire 3,000 km of 2D seismic data within 18 months and to interpret it within 24 months. It then has an option to surrender the permit.

If it continues Petrobras will acquire 800 sq km of 3D seismic within 36 months and interpret the data within 42 months. The company has a second option to surrender once the interpretation is completed.

If it chooses to enter the third phase, Petrobras will drill an exploration well within 60 months.

The company says it is targeting natural gas rather than oil and is looking for LNG-scale project finds.

The move into New Zealand is part of an Oceania strategy to broaden Petrobras’s sources of LNG and comes on the heels of its farmin to 50% of MEO Australia’s Carnarvon basin permit WA-360-P off Western Australia during April.

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