The Australia-listed company was awarded permit 51311, containing the Kakapo prospect, in 2009. It had until this week to decide whether to commit to drill or relinquish the permit.
NZOG chief executive Andrew Knight said in a statement that the drill commitment reflected the company’s intention to step up its exploration activity.
“NZOG has assessed the potential for Kakapo to be several times the size of the Tui or Maari fields. This has the potential to make a considerable contribution to our community and the New Zealand economy,” he said.
In addition to Raisama Energy, which is earning a 10% stake in the permit by paying 20% of the first well costs, NZOG expected more partners to join the venture ahead of drilling.
“The prospect looks attractive as part of a portfolio of opportunities for new entrants to New Zealand,” Knight said.
The Kakapo prospect lies in about 95 metres of water, about 25 kilometres west of the producing Kupe gas and condensate field, where the company holds a 15% stake.
The prospect is a stacked series of interbedded Miocene coastal sands and shale from a depth of about 1600 metres.
Kakapo has been estimated to contain prospective recoverable resources of 41 million barrels of oil in the ‘most likely’ case for the main target sand alone.
NZOG said it planned to have confirmation of a drilling schedule within the next six months.