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New Zealand announces oil exploration tender areas for 2016
[WELLINGTON] The New Zealand government announced on Monday that it would accept bids for oil and gas exploration in five areas totalling more than half a million square kilometres (200,000 square miles) despite low oil prices.
The four offshore blocks, and one small onshore site, came to a total of just over 525,000 square km, more than the approximately 430,000 square km put up for tender in 2015.
"These are trying times. We know commodity prices are cyclical, and hopefully we have reached the bottom of this cycle," energy minister Simon Bridges said in a speech at a petroleum conference in Auckland.
"It will take some time to adjust to, but as you know oil and gas is a long term game and one that the government remains committed to." The government received nine bids in 2015.
Shell, the country's largest gas producer, said in December that it was reviewing its business interests in New Zealand as the company tried to streamline its global portfolio.
Bidding on the blocks would be open until September and the results would be announced in December, the government said.