Numerous representatives of oil giant Shell and its joint venture partners in the Great South Basin exploration arrive in Dunedin today to visit local businesses and industry leaders.
While Shell has announced tentative plans to drill in the Great South Basin in the summer of 2014-15, all eyes are on whether it has picked up more southern, offshore exploratory blocks in the latest round of block tenders.
Shell management has visited Dunedin on several occasions, raising its corporate profile and assessing business services, but local sources are not aware of any imminent announcements.
Shell has been reluctant to comment on whether it took part in the 2012 tender process.
The 2012 tenders to Government permitting agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZPM) closed last month and are expected to be announced in coming weeks.
Just last week the Government announced details and locations of the 2013 block offer tender which opens in April and closes next September, and includes blocks within the Great South Basin and Canterbury BasinShell took over from Austrian company OMV as operator of the Great South Basin permit, which has been halved to 16,715sq km, with NZPM having granted a five-year extension to the permit from July.
Shell has been analysing drill data from the 1970s and 1980s, plus its own hydrographicsurvey data this year, noting in September that only gas was expected to be found in the licensed area.
Separately, in September, US oil producer Anadarko committed to deep sea test drilling the first of possibly two oil and gas exploration holes off Oamaru's coast, in about 13 months.
That was followed up when Anadarko executives met several Dunedin businesses, later that month.