Anadarko drops offshore oil prospect

An Anadarko deep water drilling rig. Photo: ODT files

Texas-based oil and gas explorer and producer Anadarko has joined a string of other oil majors in dropping an exploration licence in lightly explored offshore areas of New Zealand, although continues to hold interests in two other areas.

Anadarko has dropped its prospecting licence in the Pegasus Basin, offshore east coast of the lower North Island, but is continuing to reprocess seismic survey information from its Canterbury Basin prospect, where it is seeking a delay from the government on its drilling programme.

Instead of drilling next year, Anadarko wants to be allowed to wait until January 2018 before making a decision whether to drill one or more exploratory wells in deep water off the Canterbury coast.

Anadarko also holds a 25% interest in a prospecting licence in the frontier New Caledonia Basin, which is operated by Shell New Zealand, which has been in the process of reviewing all its New Zealand operations for sale as the Dutch-based multi-national seeks to reduce costs around the globe.

Anadarko had previously quit a deepwater Taranaki Basin prospect, where exploratory drilling failed to turn up commercially viable oil or gas deposits.

Since the explosion of onshore shale oil and gas production in the United States helped collapse the global price of oil, previous interest by global oil companies in deepwater oil exploration has been waning. That has been spurred further by the costs and negative global publicity of the Deepwater Horizon deepwater rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, in which Andarko was a financial partner.

Brazilian firm Petrobras, Norwegian explorer/producer Statoil and Mobil have all abandoned prospects in the last couple of years.

Environmental groups hailed the withdrawal.

"They're dropping like flies," said Greenpeace climate change campaigner Steve Abel. "One of the supposed cornerstones of this Government's economic strategy is its oil programme, but it is totally failing with no new oil found in eight years of searching."

An Anadarko spokesman, Alan Seay, said: "We remain committed to New Zealand."

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