Ice gas could be huge - Shell boss

NEW Zealand's next energy game changer could be the "super resource" of gas hydrates, says Shell New Zealand chairman Rob Jager.

Speaking to the Advantage New Zealand Petroleum Summit yesterday, he said "ice gas" beneath the sea off the coasts were recognised internationally as having significant potential as a future energy resource.

"One [government study] explains this resource could possibly be about 10 times as big as the giant Maui gas field when it was first found," Jager said. "GNS science says we have some of the biggest deposits of ice gas in the world, with the potential to meet all New Zealand's needs and create a gas export for decades."

Jager said a report by Venture Taranaki, 'The Wealth Beneath our Feet' pointed out that New Zealand's oil exports peaked in 2008 earning $3 billion and accounting for 6.7 per cent of all exports.

This peak was primarily the result of two oil and gas fields coming on-stream, which demonstrates the impact that a major new discovery could have, not to mention the downstream benefits, said Jager.

Studies showed that a near offshore oil field could net $3.2 billion of new investment, and generate 270 new jobs for two years during the development phase.

A far-shore oil find could bring $6.5 billion of new investment, while a major offshore gas find could generate $19.3 billion of expenditure.

"Though these are just scenarios, they give us a sense of the size of opportunity that the explorers are chasing."

Jager said the discovery of another Maui-sized gas field could result in New Zealand becoming part of the international gas market through a floating LNG project. This would without doubt be a significant game-changer for our country.

"With the number of world class operators currently prospecting and exploring in New Zealand's 18 sedimentary basins, I'm confident we will find another game changer," said Jager, an industry veteran.