'Historic moment' as New Zealand bans new offshore oil and gas exploration

13 April, 2018, 02:04 | Author: Diane Mills
  • New Zealand bans new offshore oil gas explorations

Signaling its commitment to a clean energy future, New Zealand's government announced Thursday it won't issue any more permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.

"There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted", said Jacinda Ardern. 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".

The move will not affect existing permits for exploration or extraction, meaning the industry is likely to continue in the nation for several more decades.

"This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. Just as New Zealand did in 1987 when it went nuclear-free and stood up to the powerful United States military, this has shown bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time - putting people ahead of the interests of oil corporations and the hunt for fossil fuels that are driving unsafe climate change", Norman continued.

In a statement this morning Ms Ardern said there would be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted.

Opposition energy spokesman Jonathan Young said gas helped ensure New Zealand's electricity supply and when existing reserves ran out in 10 years it would be forced to import emissions-heavy alternatives such as coal.

"These companies and PEPANZ carry a huge load of responsibility for the delay in decarbonisation in New Zealand and the risks to our climate and environment".

New Zealand exports about $1.1 billion worth of oil per year, less than it imports, according to The New York Times.

More news: US Budget Deficit Headed To Over $1 Trillion By 2020

Oil and gas companies are now issued rights to explore "blocks" of the sea each year, covering a total of 100,000 square kilometres.

"This decision is devoid of any rationale".

Fear of the economic costs have been strongest in the regions - Taranaki in particular - and New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a "kick in the guts".

For environmental groups, the move is a big step in tackling climate change.

Ardern said permits can last for years, and "that's why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future".

The idea of an expansion in offshore drilling has proved contentious in New Zealand, particularly after problems elsewhere like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The last of these permits ends in 2030 and the right to apply for a mining permit based on a commercial discovery is unchanged. "Much of the oil and gas already found must not be mined if New Zealand is to do its part for the climate".

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