In recent months I have been writing about the prospects of NZ staging a magnificent turnaround - albeit in the next decade, perhaps longer. I have made the argument that the world is going to be looking for oil, and eventually they are going to make their way to NZ. It is not enough that they come looking here, but it will also take some time for them to find something. It is not that I know something that they don't on the exploration-side, its just a fact that NZ has vast areas of offshore basins upon which carbonate oozes can accumulation, and in which oil can develop. This article by the NZ Herald suggests that oil explorers are starting to enter the NZ market.
The other reason why this is big is the fact that NZ is such a small nation, with just 4 million people. The implication is that NZ is potentially going to be like those small European nations like Norway, which grow rich from oil. Brunei is of course another good example. It will come...though its hard to say how much oil wealth NZ possesses...there is good reason to think it will make a substantial difference to the country. It is probable it will be gas rather than oil. If I reflect upon the geological basins of the world which most resemble the NZ context, it is likely to be the North Sea (UK-Norway fields). The proof however remains in a comparison of the geology and ultimately the evidence that comes from performing exploratory geophysics and drilling. There needs to be the right rock types, sufficient accumulation, structural development, cap rocks.
The other important development in NZ is going to be the development of iron ore resources. NZ has vast iron ore sand deposits containing titanium and vanadium. These additives will prove to be high value in the context of their ready access, because they will allow the low-temperature smelting of these ores into high-strength steels. There is probably more work to perform on these ores.
The important point is that the longer NZ takes to develop these resources, the greater their worth. The market for high-strength steels is yet to really develop, and there is still plenty of oil in the Middle East, so it will be another decade before oil prices go crazy. Resource-rich countries like Russia, Australia, Venezuela and NZ will perform really well. I think its just remarkable that the world's richest nations are not doing more to avert this problem. i.e. They ought to be investing in more efficient engines. i.e. The internal combustion engine is really very inefficient. The modern fuel cell is pretty efficient, but it produces at access of heat, when in fact the world needs the more useful form of energy, electricity. The Stirling engine is a far matter design, but it suffers from the same problem.
I would not be surprised if some NZ'er or an Australian comes up with the ground-breaking technology which sees developments in this area. It will be some frustrated engineer who could not get government funding, who mortgaged their house to develop the technology, and they end up selling out for a 3% royalty. Its the Sarich engine scenario all over again.