Government moves to end oil and gas exploration

The AM Show 12/04/2018

The Government has ruled out new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she will no longer issue block offers, in order to combat climate change and create a sustainable future.

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

"We are protecting existing exploration and mining rights. No current jobs will be affected by this as we are honouring all agreements with current permit holders."

This year's permit process will be limited to onshore acreage in Taranaki alone. Presently there are 31 active permits for oil and gas, 22 of them offshore. Some last until 2030.

"We will be working with the Taranaki community and businesses in particular on this as a long term project and I will be visiting myself later in May to underline this Government's commitment to ensuring there is a just transition to a clean energy future," she said.

Energy Minister Dr Megan Woods told The AM Show that the announcement won’t affect current permits and mining permits will still be available.

Dr Woods reiterated that the Government was “committed to doing the transition planning” with affected communities.

“We’ve got the opportunity here to do the planning, to set up new industries – people will have well-paid jobs,” she said.

In the election campaign, Ms Ardern called climate change her generation's "nuclear-free moment", referencing New Zealand's bold decision in the 1980s to stay nuclear-free.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said it was "scaremongering" to suggest the move would cost jobs and economic growth.

"While it will undoubtedly pose challenges, it also provides opportunity through investment in new technology and new industries."

Greenpeace welcomed the move, calling it a "historic moment, and a huge win for our climate and people power".

Conservation group WWF New Zealand said it was a "landmark moment" that will help the survival of the endangered Maui's dolphin.

"They live only off the west coast of the North Island, and over 30 percent of their habitat is already open for oil exploration," said CEO Livia Esterhazy. "Seismic blasting for oil can both have physical impacts on dolphins and cause long-term behavioural changes."

The fear of job losses

Meanwhile, PEPANZ chief executive Cameron Madgwick said the Government’s decision was taken “without consultation” with the industry.

“It will have an impact most likely on the job security of our workers in Taranaki.”

He described the industry’s reaction as “one of great disappointment”.

“We think there are much better ways to move to a lower net emissions economy than simply arbitrarily banning one field.”

ACT has called the decision a "lose-lose" situation.

"The oil and gas industry creates thousands of jobs, contributes $2.5 billion to the New Zealand economy and $500 million to the Government in royalties each year," said leader David Seymour.

"Not only will this policy make us poorer as a country, it will drive production of oil and gas overseas which will harm the environment."

He said the "dangerous and arrogant" decision would also cost the country 11,000 jobs.

Watch the full interview with Dr Megan Jones and Cameron Madgwick above. 

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