Two Orange County oil companies, Western Energy Resources and Albion International Resources, have joined a consortium of six U.S., Canadian and New Zealand firms to search for oil off the northwest coast of New Zealand.
The government of New Zealand awarded a license to the group last week. It allows for exploration and possible future drilling in more than 825,000 acres.
"Our strategy is to get into a frontier area of drilling," said Jevne Haugan, vice president of Western Energy Resources. Los Angeles-based Arco has been engaged in exploratory drilling off New Zealand's North Island, but few if any U.S. companies actually produce oil in the region, according to Haugan.
"We will be putting together a seismic program shortly. Based on geology work already done by the New Zealand Ministry of Energy, it looks like there are some pretty good fault traps down there," Haugan added. A fault trap is a subterranean pocket, created by seismic activity, that provides a likely place for oil and natural gas to collect.