New Zealand draws "line in the sand" with exploration ban

13 April, 2018, 02:06 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • An oil rig between Stratford and Midhurst in Taranaki. Ardern will announce no more offshore exploration permits and

This week, she said the country will no longer grant new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, Reuters reported.

The oil and gas industry is relatively small in New Zealand, employing about 11,000 people and accounting for about 1 per cent of the overall economy.

She says for that reason, the government has set a target of zero carbon pollution by 2050 - and that the country needs to begin transitioning away from fossil fuels now to make a difference in time. The Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand protested the lack of consultation with industry representatives before the decision was made, with chief executive Cameron Madgwick telling media "It shows a complete misunderstanding by the government of how our industry works. these are multi-decadal decisions, there are people here today that are looking forward to the future and what that might look like for their business, the planning around that indeed the equipment that might be needed".

In total, there are 31 now active oil and gas exploration permits in New Zealand with nine of them being onshore.

The Prime Minister said that she has taken a responsible step which will give certainty for businesses and communities that depend on fossil fuels. "We're striking the right balance for New Zealand - we're protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change".

National called a snap debate in parliament on Thursday and used it to attack the government's decision not to offer any more offshore oil exploration permits.

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WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy hopes the announcement will spur renewable energy investment from oil and gas industries.

The New Zealand government will continue offering the onshore region of Taranaki for exploration, and will also not revoke any existing exploration contracts.

Jobs are unlikely to be lost tomorrow, but some companies will decide additional investment is better spent elsewhere while others may avoid New Zealand altogether.

Norman says today's announcement means, "the tide has turned irreversibly against Big Oil in New Zealand".

However, New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdem said the move was a "kick in the guts for the future of the Taranaki economy".

"This decision is devoid of any rationale".

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He said the world was waking up to the realities of climate change.

In each of the last two years only one permit has been granted for offshore oil and gas exploration.

"New Zealand First's support is predicated by its commitment to protect the rights of existing permit holders. these permits continue as far out as 2046". "Much of the oil and gas already found must not be mined if New Zealand is to do its part for the climate".

"This decision does not affect current reserves or the potential finds from current exploration permits".

The stance was well signalled in February, when Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods extended an offshore oil and gas exploration permit off Oamaru, stating the alternative would have been a judicial review of the permitting process.

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