Austrian oil giant OMV has confirmed a positive result for hydrocarbons - oil and natural gas - 50km off the Taranaki coast at its Toutouwai-1 exploration well.
OMV announced earlier this month that it was postponing drilling on its upcoming Maui-8 exploration well indefinitely due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Maui-8 would have been the fourth well drilled by the COSL Prospector drilling rig in their current exploration campaign, and two earlier wells - the Gladstone-1 and Tawhaki-1, were both unsuccessful.
In a statement today, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) called the confirmation at Toutouwai-1 was "exciting and promising news".
PEPANZ Chief Executive John Carnegie said "reports of the demise of our sector have been greatly and prematurely exaggerated.
"There is still plenty of work to be done before any development is confirmed, but the potential benefits to Taranaki and all New Zealand are substantial.
"Fourty-two per cent of the profits from any new well goes to the taxpayer in royalties and taxes, and any new development would likely mean new jobs and export earnings.
"It could also help our long-term energy security given we have less than 11 years of natural gas reserves left. We need affordable and reliable energy to rebuild our economy and power our export industries.
"We haven't had a commercial discovery since 2006. If we don’t develop our own energy then we are at the mercy of overseas producers, and could end up importing LNG. We think it's much better to produce our own energy here in New Zealand instead.
"The energy provided by natural gas and oil still has a very important role to play as we transition to a lower emissions world."
OMV is one of the only oil companies which still had the right to explore for new oil and gas fields in New Zealand waters, after securing permits before the 2018 ban on new offshore exploration.
Several protest efforts have taken place against the company's activities, including by Greenpeace.