New Zealand bans new offshore oil, gas explorations

New Zealand bans new offshore oil, gas explorations

New Zealand will not grant any new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration, Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern said on Thursday, taking the industry by surprise with a decision that it says will push investment overseas.

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

Ardern, who campaigned heavily on preventing climate change in the run-up to last year's tight election, said the decision was a responsible step and provided certainty for businesses and communities.

"The point is we are going to be a net zero economy by the year 2050 and that over the course of the next 30 years we are going to be transitioning away from fossil fuels and much more into renewables and other forms of energy and industry", explains James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand criticized the federal government for not consulting with the business, stating alternative power sources were not yet prepared to meet demand and that oil would have to be erased from other countries at a greater cost.

The move won't affect existing permits for exploration or extraction, meaning the industry is likely to continue in the South Pacific nation for several more decades. "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. As our need for oil and gas decreases, and the transition to clean and renewable energy sources takes place, we should slowly stop drilling.

Energy Minister Megan Woods said that this year's block offer will be limited to onshore acreage in Taranaki alone, the announcement went on to say.

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The decision sparked a snap debate in Parliament in which Opposition MPs sought to portray the government's coalition partner, New Zealand First, as a reluctant participant in the decision, despite Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones stoutly defending the policy as necessary if the country was to make serious efforts to prepare for a low-carbon future.

"This decision is devoid of any rationale".

"We're striking the right balance for New Zealand", Ms Ardern said.

"Industry interest in New Zealand oil and gas is actually higher now than it has been for a number of years", Rodger said, pointing to recent investments by companies such as Austria's OMV Group and Malaysia's Sapura Energy. "These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions". In its announcement however, the government said it wanted to be clear no current jobs would be affected. "As the industry itself admits, there is good potential for more to be found".

Environmental group Greenpeace hailed Ardern's move.

The announcement does not apply to onshore exploration permits.

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