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New Zealand bans all new offshore oil and gas exploration

EBR Staff Writer Published 12 April 2018

The New Zealand government has decided not to issue any further offshore oil and gas exploration permits in a move to address climate change.

The Pacific country will restrict its block offer to onshore acreage in Taranaki for this year as announced by New Zealand Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

Ardern’s latest decision to ban new offshore exploration will not impact the 22 active offshore licenses.

In total, there are 31 currently active oil and gas exploration permits in New Zealand with nine of them being onshore. Put together, the permits spread across nearly 100,000km2, which is almost the size of the North Island with the last of the licenses slated to end in 2030.

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

“This decision does not affect current reserves or the potential finds from current exploration permits. As the industry itself admits, there is good potential for more to be found.”

The Prime Minister said that she has taken a responsible step which will give certainty for businesses and communities that depend on fossil fuels.

Ardern claimed that her government is striking the right balance by protecting the existing industry and at the same time shielding future generation from climate change.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman said: “Globally, the writing is on the wall for the oil industry. Its assumption that the world will always want more and more oil, and that they will need to exploit ever more remote new frontiers to supply it, is fatally flawed.

“New Zealand’s ban should make any company looking to develop extreme projects like the Canadian tar sands, Arctic or Amazon Reef think twice about whether it’s a gamble worth taking.”

In December last year, France's parliament has also approved a law prohibiting all oil and gas exploration and production within the country and its overseas territories by 2040.

Under the new law, the country will not issue any new licenses or renew the existing drilling permits.

Image: New Zealand will not issue any new offshore oil and gas exploration permits in its waters. Photo: courtesy of num_skyman/Freedigitalphotos.net.