The Christchurch Press reports that a Maori tribe has submitted a claim of ownership of the Kupe oilfield and the tribe is seeking a tribunal hearing.

The claim comes as New Zealand’s Commerce Ministry has announced its intention to sell or transfer its 11 per cent share in the Kupe oilfield licence to four private companies. Vanco Energy, a Texas-based company, is seeking a majority share in the licence.

The article in the Christchurch Press cites the opinion of a law expert at Victoria university that the Kupe oilfield represents the only natural resource of any financial value within the claimant’s tribal region in Taranaki, on New Zealand’s North Island.

Earlier this year, New Zealand newspapers reported that Vanco Energy has plans to spend up to $300 million bringing the Kupe oilfield into production with two years. The company estimates that 15 million barrels could be in production by early 2001.

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