VIENNA, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Austrian energy company OMV said its New Zealand subsidiary was bringing Norwegian energy giant Statoil on as a partner for offshore exploration.
For an undisclosed sum, Statoil takes on a 30 percent stake in the exploration permit for the Pegasus basin off the coast of New Zealand.
"OMV is excited with our first partnership with Statoil in New Zealand and we intend to build on the good existing relationships that we have with Statoil globally," Peter Zeilinger, managing director of OMV New Zealand, said in a statement.
OMV stays on as the operator with a 70 percent stake in the permit in the Pegasus basin.
OMV pulled oil out of the ground first in New Zealand in early 2009 from the Maari oil field, the largest in New Zealand. With its natural gas holdings in the country, OMV is among the largest producers in New Zealand.
The Austrian energy company said it would work with Statoil on geophysical studies of the Pegasus basins to determine by the start of the next decade whether or not a viable strategy exists for further exploitation.
The agreement comes as New Zealand's energy sector enters a state of flux. Oil is the fourth-largest export for New Zealand, bringing in around $700 million each year in royalties and taxes. But renewables last year made up nearly 80 percent of the country's electricity generation.
In December, Royal Dutch Shell said it was reviewing its portfolio in New Zealand as it works to streamline operations in a weakened crude oil market. Shell's operations in New Zealand account for about half the total natural gas production in the country and a "significant" portion of its light oil production.