New Zealand has invited bids from potential firms for 23 exploration blocks, mainly off the coast of south Wellington, to be explored from 2013.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals (NZPM), part of the Ministry of Economic Development, has launched the tender process for the exploration blocks, which cover 40km of the seabed and three kilometres of land in Waikato, Taranaki, Tasman, the West Coast and Southland.
David Binnie, NZPM general manager, said: "The blocks cover a number of petroleum basins and a variety of environmental settings and resource types to attract a range of potential explorers with different expertise and interests."
The blocks have been chosen based on current knowledge of the geology and oil and gas prospectivity of the areas.
Initially, 25 blocks were supposed to go up for tender, but the ministry deferred two onshore Taranaki basin blocks, while a number of other blocks have been revised in shape or had conditions attached.
"It was encouraging to see submissions that sought practical solutions to local concerns, without being overly restrictive to impede responsible resource development," said Binnie.
"Officials are now contacting local government and iwi submitters to ensure they understand how their submission has been considered in detail."
Tenders close on October 15 2012.