The New Zealand microcontinent
Passive margins in hiding
This one is a labour of love for Paetoro. The homeland. Twenty three formative years living in New Zealand means I know it well, and its amazing geology has been a great introduction to the science. Today the onshore and offshore Taranaki Basin is a well known semi-mature petroleum province and has served New Zealand well. It still delivers new discoveries.
While the NZ government has taken a somewhat hasty decision to prohibit further offshore licensing, this remains a subject of vigorous debate in New Zealand. It is understandable, there is much to protect, and whatever decision is taken, it is New Zealand's to make. Paetoro however will continue to take an active interest in the resource potential of these difficult but vastly underexplored basins.
The areas in orange, red and yellow at left show the extent of New Zealand's continental shelf, most of which - like the Russian Arctic, is submerged. Only the areas hurled up by plate convergence and volcanism are above sea level - a large number of mostly Cretaceous basins remain hidden in the depths.
These areas are challenging. The storm conditions can equal anything the North Atlantic can produce, and the water is deep. Yet these lesser known offshore deep basins are highly underexplored, and some already possess significant discoveries - by some estimates up to half a TCF. Commerciality down there is tough - lets be realistic - but the potential is real.
New Zealand historically has done a good job at making exploration data available for these basins, and Paetoro will continue to collate and review these data sets, in a way that helps introduce the area to newcomers. The South Pacific is an environmentally pristine area and New Zealand will always want to think carefully about the activities undertaken in its seas, balancing risks and rewards sensibly. Paetoro hopes to help inform any debate by understanding and helping to communicate the potential resource.