New Zealand stops new offshore oil exploration to battle climate change

An oil rig between Stratford and Midhurst in Taranaki. Ardern will announce no more offshore exploration permits and

New Zealand's only NZX-listed oil and gas explorer and producer says today's government announcements ending the issuance of offshore oil and gas exploration permits "will not have any immediate material impact" on its operations or earnings, but it will now start looking offshore for new opportunities.

This, she said, underscored the fact that climate change was real and New Zealand needed to be at the forefront of efforts to address it.

The country's upstream petroleum association said it was "very disappointed in the government's decision to halt offshore Block Offers", adding that it was "likely to affect New Zealand's energy security and global reputation".

"Our known gas supplies will run out in 11 years".

It said jobs would be threatened and consumers would face higher prices.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones last week announced a package of measures for the Taranaki region from the government's Provincial Growth Fund, in a move that can now be seen as having laid the groundwork for today's announcement, including support for turning Taranaki into a model province for " clean energy" production.

"All of which will decline without new activity", he said.

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Arden also assured that her policy will not lead to job losses in the country's oil industry, which now employs at least 11,000 workers and generates about $1.8 billion per year. "We're striking the right balance for New Zealand - we're protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change".

"While we will continue to demand a complete end to fossil fuel exploration on land and sea as well as the revoking of existing permits, this has been one of Greenpeace New Zealand's longest-running campaigns and it counts as a great success for so many people that this ban is now in place", said Norman.

The government said there were now 31 oil and gas exploration permits, with 22 of them offshore. But the move is a compromise as existing permits covering an area the size of the North Island will allow further drilling and new permits for onshore exploration will continue.

And Ardern personally accepted a Greenpeace petition at Parliament earlier this month to ban all oil and gas exploration. We are making careful and considered changes over time and supporting communities with a managed transition.

National's Energy and Resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the permit decision was devoid of rationale.

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

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