Exploration in New Zealand in 1979 reached one of the lowest levels recorded. Offshore, there was no drilling or seismic work, and the remaining concession area amounts to a mere 9,088 sq km. Onland concession areas, all owned by the government company Petrocorp, are 14,771.4 sq km; 2 important areas were relinquished and others were enlarged. One rig was drilling throughout the year, totaling 6,230 m. Seismic surveys amounted to 7 party-months and 554.55 km, which is 66% of 1978.
Platform A of the Maui field started production in June. Despite this, the combined production of the Kapuni and Maui fields decreased to 61.5% for gas and 64.3% for condensate—compared with last year’s production of Kapuni alone—or 1,307.464 × 106 cu m of gas and 476,893 cu m of condensate. LPG was obtained at some higher rates, that is, 19,577.93 cu m or 128.8% of last year’s production, and natural gasoline at 8,591.61 cu m or 102.1%.
In Tonga, last year’s unsuccessful drilling of 3 dry holes was followed by marine seismic surveys north and east of Tongatapu Island, where it is hoped some suitable targets for offshore drilling will be found. Most of Webb Resources’ (Denver) interests in Webb Tonga Inc. allegedly were acquired by Sohio.
In Fiji, offshore seismic surveys of 6,000 line-km were completed, as well as geochemical surveys looking for sea-bottom anomalies. Their results and the discovery of active offshore hydrocarbon seepages have proved the existence of mature source rocks. With the farm-in of Chevron Overseas Inc., drilling is planned for at least 2 offshore wells early in 1980.
In the New Hebrides, draft legislation is now underway for a petroleum act. It is hoped that with independence being obtained in 1980, a legal basis for petroleum exploration will soon be established.
Also, in the Solomon Islands, draft legislation was put before parliament near year end, and final arrangements are to be completed in 1980.
In Papua New Guinea no seismic or geologic field surveys were conducted. No drilling was undertaken, but access and site preparations were carried out for Kiunga 1 well to be drilled by Niugini Gulf Oil Pty. Ltd. early in 1980. Minor concession changes have been made.
An international symposium on “Petroleum Potential in Island Arcs, Small Ocean Basins, Submerged Margins and Related Areas,” held in Suva, Fiji, September 18 to 21, attracted 150 participants including those from 14 countries outside the region. Of the 36 papers delivered several were on topics directly related to this region, and others dealt with similar problems encountered elsewhere. The papers will be published in Technical Bulletin 3 of CCOP/SOPAC, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.