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Shores of Lake Te Anau offered up for oil and gas exploration

More than 4000 km² of Southland land, including the shores of Lake Te Anau, are being offered up for oil and gas exploration.

Energy Minister Judith Collins announced this morning the areas where oil companies will be allowed to prospect.

Oil exploration vessel. Source: 1 NEWS

The new block offer includes an onshore area, called the Western Southland Basin, which nudges up against the Fiordland National Park and runs along part of the dramatic southern coast, including Te Waewae Bay.

Oil and gas exports say the area is under explored.

"This is the first time parts of the Southland Basin have been included in the Block Offer," Ms Collins said. 

"The Southland Basin is an onshore basin that is considered to have very similar geological characteristics to the Taranaki Basin and has been lightly explored for oil and gas.

"The current market conditions favour relatively low-cost onshore opportunities such as the Southland Basin."

Also included in the offer are almost 3000 km² square of the Taranaki Basin, that overlap the North Island West Coast Marine Mammal Sanctuary, home to the endangered Maui dolphin.

The Government says the risk to the dolphins from oil and gas development is very small.

This block includes five offshore areas in Northland - Reinga, Pegasus - East Coast, Hawke Bay, Taranaki and Great South - Canterbury, and two onshore areas, in Taranaki and Southland.

The total acreage included in the tender is 481,735 km², comprising 5,102 km² onshore and 476,632 km² offshore.

Ms Collins made the announcement at an industry conference in New Plymouth, which was disrupted when about 200 protesters blocked entrances.