Data collected in a just completed 3D siesmic survey made by New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd off the coast of Oamaru will be studied over the next two years.
The company is seeking to establish whether oil drilling would be viable in the area.
Company spokesman John Pagani said a three-dimensional picture would be formed of the land surface under the sea.
“It’s incredibly sophisticated science,” Mr Pagani said.
“The seismic equipment has been described as the cathedral of science; there’ll be extremely powerful computing analysing this data and leading scientists to interpret that data.”
The survey data will be processed overseas and then analysed by the company’s geoscientists in Wellington.
The survey area covered approximately 650 square kilometres of the Clipper permit east of Oamaru and was completed on Tuesday last week – earlier than expected.
“It was completed in well under the expected time with no incidents and we gathered all the data we need,” Mr Pagani said.
The seismic vessel Polarcus Alima began the survey on December 17 towing 12 seismic streamers, each 100 metres apart and reaching 8km behind the vessel.
The survey included an extension into the Galleon permit immediately southwest of Clipper.
The Clipper permit is a joint venture with the Australian-based Beach Energy. NZ Oil and Gas bought into the permit in October 2012. The company has said if there was a “decent show” at the site, it would “find partners” for a possible drilling operation.
The Clipper and Galleon permits lie in the Canterbury Basin in which extensive surveys were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s and wells were drilled by BP in 1984.
Drilling by another operator is scheduled in an adjacent permit early this year.
Last month Mr Pagani told the Oamaru Mail they were confident of finding hydro-gas resources on a scale similar to those in Taranaki.
By CHRIS TOBIN
PHOTO: The Polarcus Alima, which has just completed a seismic survey off Oamaru – SUPPLIED