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Representatives of oil and gas giant Anadarko are expected in Dunedin as early as Monday to confidentially brief various parties about the first assessment of its drilling programme off the Otago coast.
Several sources contacted by the Otago Daily Times confirmed they were in line for briefings in the coming week, with the first expected in Dunedin on Monday night.
The southern exploration site is about 60km off the Otago Peninsula coast, at the southern margin of the Canterbury Basin and at a depth of about 1100m. The exploration was said to cost about $122 million.
The company has previously said that even if Anadarko were to strike gas or oil, it would be at least seven or eight years before there was any benefit for Dunedin.
Sources said they were hopeful of good news from Anadarko but realised there was less than a 50% chance of a discovery being announced.
The briefing was expected to be an assessment rather than an announcement of results. Anadarko New Zealand manager Alan Seay said drilling had reached its target depth - 1700m below the sea floor - on Thursday, and work to log and analyse material was continuing.
The operation had gone ''very, very well'', despite stormy conditions earlier this week.
Swells of up to 10m forced the crew of Noble Bob Douglas to suspend drilling operations and grounded helicopter flights to and from the ship until conditions eased, he said.
That was ''very much a precautionary move''.
Anadarko's drill ship would remain on station for at least a week, while work to log and analyse material continued, Mr Seay said.