The Government has doubled the area open to oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, saying it wants to see a big increase in drilling.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges admits that includes some conservation land.
Oil and gas companies from around the world gathered in Wellington to hear where they may be able to drill.
"We have just scratched the surface of our potential," says Mr Bridges.
The Government announced a huge increase in exploration areas - double the area of last year.
Areas include a big expansion off Northland, a new area called the "New Caledonia Basin", extensions for both inshore and offshore Taranaki, a new region east of Palmerston North, a significant expansion of the Pegasus Basin, land on the West Coast will be opened up, and a significant area of sea on the East Coast off the South Island.
"There's strong continued interest in New Zealand, we've had unprecedented exploration recently and I think that phenomenon will continue," says Mr Bridges.
Oil giant Anadarko failed to come across a big oil find last year and pulled out.
"I think what we are all learning this is a long-term game," says Mr Bridges.
Conservation land is being opened up - but not the most protected areas known as Schedule 4.
"Conservation land is 33 percent of New Zealand, there may be some conservation land but certainly no Schedule 4 or World Heritage areas."
Oil companies have six months to apply for exploration permits, with the Government to announce who's successful in December.
But if there's a change of Government, the Greens say they'd pressure Labour to put a halt to it.
Mr Bridges says that's "the Greens, being the Greens".
With a huge increase in exploration areas, the Government is really trying to lure foreign companies after last year's failure to find anything.
It's a long process and Mr Bridges says it could be 10 years before any production comes from today's announcement.
source: newshub archive