WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The oil and natural gas sector is expected to be one of largest drivers of the New Zealand economy in the season ahead, a minister said Tuesday.
New Zealand's Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges unveiled new information showing the energy sector was thriving in his country.
The New Zealand government awarded 10 exploration permits for oil and natural gas during its first auction in December. Permits in 2013 will be awarded under new laws that consider health, safety and environmental factors for explorers.
"The summer ahead will be one of the largest on record for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand with 13 exploratory wells being drilled offshore and 27 onshore," Bridge said in a statement Tuesday. "The industry is expected to spend $465 million to $585 million."
A government report published Tuesday said the oil and natural gas sector generated more than $250 per hour worked, compared to a national average of $37 per hour worked.
The government said natural gas production increased 8 percent so far this year. Oil production, however, was the lowest in five years because of field closures in February.