New Zealand to ban new oil and gas exploration permits

New Zealand government has announced an end to new oil and gas exploration permits in the country. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; Image source: Labour Party

The announcement was made on Thursday by Labour Party leader and New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, speaking at Victoria University on the government’s environment plans.

“We owe it to future generations, and our planet,” the government said.

However, the government emphasized that the change will not be abrupt and that there will be a measured and planned transition.

“All existing permits will be protected,” the government added.

The government’s announcement about ceasing offshore oil and gas permitting was welcomed by environmental organization Greenpeace.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, said the government has listened to people throughout the country who have campaigned for seven years to bring an end to offshore oil and gas exploration.

According to the environmental group, the government announced an end to the annual offshore ‘Block Offer’ process, which sees hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of New Zealand land and sea being offered to companies to explore for oil and gas. However, the government will continue offering onshore Taranaki for exploration, and will not revoke existing exploration contracts.

Norman said that today’s announcement means, “the tide has turned irreversibly against Big Oil in New Zealand”.

“Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation. New Zealand has stood up to one of the most powerful industries in the world, Norman added.

Norman noted that this has been one of Greenpeace New Zealand’s longest running campaigns.

Most recently, East Coast iwi Ngāti Kahungunu mobilized its traditional bluewater Waka Hourua, Te Matau a Māui, to challenge the Amazon Warrior seismic vessel as it searched for oil on behalf of Statoil, Chevron and OMV off the Wairarapa Coast.

Greenpeace also traveled the 60 nautical miles out to sea out to meet the seismic vessel in crowd-funded boat, Taitu.

Following the Amazon Warrior’s arrival, over 80 coastal hapū declared their unanimous rejection of oil exploration, culminating in a historic agreement by the National Iwi Chairpersons Forum last December to oppose all seismic testing and oil exploration in the waters of New Zealand.

Offshore Energy Today Staff