New Zealand has experienced a strong increase in exploration activity. Offshore license holdings are up to 164,015 km2, an increase of 53%. Onshore licences are 20,467 km2, an increase of 77%. Four offshore wells were drilled to a total depth of 13,690 m; they were all dry. Onshore drilling amounted to 8,548 m and was concentrated around last year’s oil discovery of McKee-2A. The field was confirmed by 1 extension well, McKee-3A, whereas 2 other wells were dry and a fourth extension well still drilling by year end. Onland seismic surveys covered 484 line-km, while marine seismic work amounted to 6,561 km.
Because of increased re-injection of gas in the Kapuni field, the saleable production slightly went down, but condensate production rose by nearly 50,000 m3, i.e., 21% more than last year. With the strongly increased output from the offshore Maui field, total gas production for sale was 1,286 × 106 m3, up 20.2%, while the total production of condensate was 550,101 m3, up 31.3%. LPG production rose to 41,179 m3, up 50.8%.
Tonga has experienced a virtual standstill in exploration, but CCOP/SOPAC has completed and prepared for publication its interpretation of a single-channel seismic survey over the southern Tongan platform, conducted the year before.
In Fiji, license areas remained unchanged but a new company, Bennett Petroleum Corp., acquired a 75% interest in Block D. Extensive geochemical sampling and minor geophysical surveys were undertaken in several blocks, and a shallow stratigraphic hole was drilled to 307 m.
In Vanuatu, which still lacks petroleum legislation, no exploration licenses were granted. A CCOP/SOPAC-sponsored study of all existing marine seismic surveys has been completed, and a summary of results has been prepared for publication.
The Solomon Islands, too, has no petroleum legislation as yet. CCOP/SOPAC ran single-channel seismic surveys to a total of 1,115 line-km, mainly near Rennell Island but also some in the Central Solomons Trough.
In Papua New Guinea, the total concession areas increased to 72,600 km2. Oil companies recorded 550 km of seismic lines onshore, and 1,716 km offshore; aeromagnetic surveys covered 9,779 line-km. Outside concession areas, CCOP/SOPAC conducted single-channel seismic surveys in the New Ireland basin between Bougainville and Manus Island, for a total length of 4,964 km. Interpretation of these surveys has been completed and prepared for publication.
An appraisal well, Barikewa-2, was spudded shortly before year-end; initial reserve estimates for this large anticline had run as high as 10 tcf of gas in place. Drilling depth will be about 2,120 m.