Types of petroleum permits

NZP&M issues permits to prospect, explore or mine petroleum onshore and offshore.

These permits are defined in the Crown Minerals Act 1991 and the Minerals Programme for Petroleum 2013.

All petroleum permits are classified as Tier 1 as they are complex, higher risk and return operations requiring a more proactive management and regulatory regime.

Petroleum prospecting permits

Petroleum prospecting permits give the holder the right to conduct reconnaissance and general investigations of an area. Allowed activities include acquisition of geological and geophysical data collection. Drilling is not allowed to be undertaken under a prospecting permit.

Applications may be made at any time over any available area and there are no size limits. In most cases these permits are non-exclusive (i.e. there can be multiple permits granted overlapping the same location) and permit holders do not have any subsequent rights to an exploration permit.

Permits are usually granted for up to two years.

Petroleum exploration permits

Exploration permits grant the holder the right to identify petroleum deposits and evaluate the feasibility of mining any discoveries. Allowed activities include geological and geophysical surveying, exploration and appraisal drilling, and testing of petroleum discoveries.

Petroleum exploration permits are only allocated through then annual Petroleum Block Offer. The estate is divided into a graticular grid where the size limits are defined by NZP&M in the Block Offer’s Invitation for Bids.

An exploration permit is awarded to enable research into where commercially recoverable reserves of oil and gas may be. Exploration activities can include sampling, aeromagnetic surveys, geological studies, compiling reports and seismic surveys and well drilling.

Permits are issued for up to 15 years, depending on the permit location. It is possible to get an extension of up to four years for appraisal purposes - a second four-year extension is also possible.

Permits are exclusive, and carry subsequent rights to apply for a mining permit.

Once operators are granted a permit they must arrange consents before they proceed with any exploration activity.

For an overview of the consents required read our guide to the Government management of petroleum

Petroleum mining permits

Petroleum mining permits grant the holder rights to develop a discovered petroleum field to extract and produce petroleum. Activities allowed include extraction, separation, treatment and processing of petroleum.

These exclusive permits are granted subsequent to an exploration permit, and are granted based on the evaluation of an appraisal programme and work programme.

The size and duration of the permit is constrained to the extent of the discovery.

Land access

Permits do not give the permit holder automatic rights to access the permit area. Generally for exploration and mining activities, permit holders must arrange land access with the landowner and occupier.

For minimum impact activity, 10 days' notice is required (except over special classes of land, such as urban conservation land).

Read more in our Land Access factsheet

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