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Houston-based oil and gas company Anadarko wants to postpone its pending ‘‘drill or drop'' decision on deepwater drilling off Oamaru, and is seeking a one-year extension to the existing permit.
Anadarko is under a regulatory obligation to declare in April that it is going to go ahead with drilling off Oamaru soon, or drop the permit, which is issued by Government agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZPM).
Anadarko's New Zealand corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said an application had been lodged with NZPM, seeking a one-year extension.
"About a year ago we finished 3D [shipborne seismic] surveying . . . of two sizeable blocks, so we're asking for a time extension,'' he said.
The 3D data was still being processed in Houston, and Anadarko required more time to complete the processing.
Mr Seay said if Anadarko were to gain the one-year extension, there was no obligation to undertake further exploration during that period.
He expected to have a decision from NZPM "shortly'' on the extension application.
Mr Seay was asked what conclusions had so far been gleaned from the data, but declined to comment until processing was completed.
In September last year Shell postponed its 2016 drilling plans in the Great South Basin, south of Dunedin, as global oil prices fell to six-year lows.
In December, Shell announced a review of all its New Zealand assets, which could include a complete withdrawal from the country, but it has not yet announced the review results.
In 2014, Anadarko spent about $400 million in Taranaki and off Otago's coast on test drilling programmes, but came up empty-handed.
Last month, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges opened up the tendering round for the annual "block offer'', totalling 525,500sq km, including the Northland-Reinga basin, the Taranaki offshore and one onshore basin, the Pegasus and East Coast basins and the Canterbury-Great South basins.
The previous 2015 annual block offer saw nine onshore and offshore permits awarded around only Taranaki, compared with the 2014 offer when 15 permits were issued to nine companies.
Separately, New Zealand Oil and Gas maintains offshore exploration permits off Oamaru's coastline, covering the deepwater prospects Barque, Clipper and Galleon.