New Zealand has awarded an exploration permit to Brazil’s Petrobras to seek oil and gas in an unexplored offshore region, the New Zealand Government has announced.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee said the state-run energy company Petrobras was awarded a five-year permit to explore a 12,333km² (4,762 square miles) block off the east coast of the North Island.

“Given Petrobras’s expertise, and financial and technical pedigree, this is an exciting step into areas of New Zealand until now unexplored,” Brownlee said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Petrobras, which has not previously operated in New Zealand, will undertake seismic surveys of the block and plans to drill an exploration well worth around $118m over the life of the permit.