Two companies have found oil in areas inland of Greymouth and the Government has just closed bids on a block offer covering 6700 square kilometres.
Mosman Oil and Gas took over an exploration permit near Lake Brunner last December.
The Perth-based company has found oil in two of the three exploratory holes drilled in its Petroleum Creek project.
Mosman technical director Andy Carroll said the oil around Petroleum Creek was so shallow it could be seen leaking out of the surface.
Oil was first spotted in the area in the late 1800s when a railway was built and there have been multiple wells drilled since.
"We've demonstrated there's oil underground and the next question is what rates it produces," Carroll said.
Over the next two months, the first two wells will be put through their paces in extended flow tests.
"Even a few barrels a day would be both technically and commercially satisfactory to get started," Carroll said.
After that, Mosman has its eyes on drilling further west where the oil should be deeper and therefore produce higher flow rates.
"We've drilled three wells now since we started here. We drilled in June, July and October, we think we'll drill multiple wells in the next 12 months."
About 10 kilometres to the south-west another historic well site, Niagara, is being explored by Gloriavale Christian Community.
Based in Haupiri, inland from Greymouth, the community supports itself with a number of industries, including deer and dairy farming and a meat rendering plant.
Through its company, Ocean Harvest International Limited, the community has held a permit to explore Niagara since 2001.
Geological consultant Murry Cave said Ocean Harvest had imported a new drill in June and expected to resume drilling at Niagara early next year.
In the meantime, the drill had been put into service at Whataroa to delve into the Alpine Fault as part of a scientific project led by GNS Science.
With two companies already prospecting, there could soon be more faces looking for oil on the West Coast.
In April, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals opened up 405,000 square kilometres of land for a block offer bid in three onshore and five offshore areas.
About 6700 square kilometres of that was on the West Coast, covering a stretch of land north-east of Westport to the south-west of Hokitika, including Department of Conservation-administered Victoria Forest Park.
At the time, Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges came under fire for admitting he did not know where the conservation park was.
Cave and Carroll both said Victoria Park would hold little interest for those exploring for oil.
"The Victoria Forest should have got cut out in that consultation process," Carroll said.
"We're certainly not interested in trying to push into anything like a national park. There's no need because there's enough area without getting into those sort of issues."
Bids for the block offer closed last week. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment refused to provide information about how many bids had been received or for which areas.
Carroll said Mosman had made four bids but did not specify where, except to say the company was interested in the area it was already working in.
"The applications we've put in won't involve any sensitive areas," he said.
The bids would be assessed and permits were expected to be granted from December.
Thanks to the Press for permission to run excerpts from their publication.