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New Zealand's export earnings from oil could increase to $30 billion a year by 2025, Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
With the help of a six-point Government plan, oil earnings could rise tenfold over the next 15 years, Mr Brownlee told the biennial oil and gas outlook conference in Wellington yesterday.
"New Zealand's largely unexplored petroleum resource could be one of the country's most significant economic opportunities," he said.
Much of the focus would be on offshore deepwater basins, including the Great South Basin.
During the next 13 months, the Government wanted to focus on reforms of tax and regulatory issues, international resource promotion and the updating of 20-year-old legislation and estate management by its agency Crown Minerals.
Longer term, the Government was committed to ongoing collation of seismic data from the "frontier" deep-water basins.
"The Government believes that petroleum has the potential to drive a steep change in New Zealand's economic performance," Mr Brownlee said.
The Government had also commissioned five reports, including from Aberdeen University, GNS Science, the New Zealand Centre for Advanced Engineering and investment banking and sharebroking group McDouall Stuart.
These will go out for public comment.
Petroleum sector exports last year were worth $3 billion, double the previous year, largely on the back of the offshore Taranaki Tui field.
From this, the Crown received $965 million, including both taxes and $543 million in royalty payments.
In August, Mr Brownlee announced a review of all Crown land for mineral mining potential - triggering an outcry from environmentalists - and yesterday he reaffirmed the Government saw major potential in New Zealand's resource sector to play a big part in digging the country out of recession.
Most of the next year's estimated $800 million oil and gas exploration is around offshore Taranaki.
In the Great South Basin, one of two multinationals has deferred further exploration for a year, after completing large scale ship-based seismic studies.
However, following a Crown Minerals $4 million seismic survey of the basin in 2006, the Government is spending up to $20 million on further seismic surveys of seven basins and troughs.
This includes 3000km to 4000km of surveying of the Great South Basin this summer.