Australian independent Beach Energy is hoping to start an exploration drilling campaign in late 2020 in New Zealand's deep-water Canterbury basin.

Beach said in an application to New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority that it proposes to drill one initial exploration well in Block PEP38264 as part of its Canterbury basin exploration and appraisal drilling programme.

Depending on the results of the first well, a wider programme of up to 11 exploration and appraisal wells could follow.

Two drill-ready prospects have been identified - Wherry and Gondola - in average water depths of 1350 metres.

Beach said drilling is anticipated to begin in late 2020 and will be completed as part of one or more drilling campaigns, using either, or both, a semi-submersible or a drillship.

PEP 38264 was the scene of an exploration drilling effort in 2014 when US independent Anadarko Petroleum drilled the Caravel-1 well, which was not commercial.

It is understood the current joint venture owners of the permit are Beach (37.5%), O.G. Energy (37.5%) and Discover Exploration (25%).

Beach has applied to New Zealand's EPA to discharge trace amounts of "harmful substances" from the deck drains of whichever drilling rig it uses.