In New Zealand, new incentives by the government have greatly stimulated interest in exploration. On land, four wells were completed during 1980 at a total depth of 10,120 m. One well was a commercial oil and gas discovery. Offshore, the first exploratory well since 1978 was spudded shortly before the end of 1980. Offshore concession areas have increased over ten-fold, to 107,044 km2; on-land licenses, which are all owned by the government company Petrocorp, decreased to 11,591 km2.
During 1980, the combined output of Kapuni and Maui gas was 1,069.049 × 106 m3, a decrease of 18.23%. This reflects the new gas-recycling operation at the Kapuni field, which started in April. Combined condensate production was down only 12.15%, amounting to 418,941 m3. Natural gasoline was down 17.44%, to 7,093 m3, whereas LPG production went up 39.44%, to 27,301 m3.
In Tonga, 925 km of offshore multichannel seismic, gravity, and magnetic surveys run in 1979 have been processed and interpreted. Firm drilling proposals must be submitted by July 1, 1981, otherwise the Petroleum Agreement will be terminated.
Outside the presently held license area of 15,540 km2, CCOP/SOPAC have conducted two single-channel seismic surveys: a 900-km survey north of Vava’u and a 2,140-km survey over the Tonga Platform south of Tongatapu. Widespread occurrence of relatively thick sediments has been encountered, particularly in the southern area.
In Fiji, the first two exploratory wells ever drilled were dry. Total depths of the wells were 2,743 m and 2,839 m. The wells were drilled in Bligh Water north of the island of Viti Levu and terminated in a lower Tertiary sequence without reaching basement.
In Vanuatu, the newly independent republic of the former New Hebrides Condominium, no petroleum legislation has so far been introduced. CCOP/SOPAC and ORSTOM jointly ran a 4,000-km single-channel reflection seismic survey between the northern islands. Several sedimentary basins with over 2,500 m of slightly deformed sediments of Miocene-Pliocene age have been delineated. However, the water depth is generally about 2,000-3,000 m.
In the Solomon Islands, there is still no petroleum legislation, but the draft of the Petroleum (Exploration and Development) Act has been completed and will go before Parliament during 1981.
In Papua New Guinea, one well was drilled to 3,027 m and abandoned as dry. It confirmed the regional stratigraphic interpretation and had encouraging hydrocarbon indications in the Mesozoic part of the sequence. Concession holdings increased to 815 blocks, with another 394 blocks under application.