Lack of interest in NZ oil drilling sites

anadarko oil drilling greenpeace new zealand
Anadarko brought their ship Noble Bob Douglas to New Zealand in 2013 (Greenpeace)

Fewer oil companies are showing interest in prospecting in New Zealand, with just one government permit issued in Taranaki this year.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says there've been a "low number" of bids for both onshore and offshore exploration compared to previous years.

Todd Energy was the only company to get a permit which allows them to explore onshore in Taranaki.

Mr Bridges says the global downturn in the petroleum industry in 2014 has "had a profound effect on exploration expenditure worldwide".

He says the trend of fewer applications isn't just happening in New Zealand.     

The Green Party says the solitary permit is a sign the Government should give up on fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy.

"With just one local company getting a single small permit, Simon Bridges' misguided attempts to attract overseas fossil fuel investment have failed this year", energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes says.

"We've got oil companies giving up on New Zealand left, right, and centre, which goes to show the Government has been backing the wrong horse."

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Kate Simcock says the tide is turning against the oil industry.

"It's a win for people - New Zealanders don't want risky oil drilling happening at all. Most major councils have voted against the Block Offer programme and iwi and hapu are aligning all along the East Coast where seismic drilling is happening at the moment to voice their opposition to oil.

"The people are speaking very clearly and the Government needs to listen now," she says.

Oil giant Anadarko this week pulled out of two permits in the Pegasus Basin, near Kaikoura and Wellington.

However, it still has a permit in the offshore Canterbury basin.

In October, Norwegian company Statoil abandoned its hunt for oil in Northland.

Ms Simcock expected a "dramatic drop" in interest next year if the Government continues its Block Offer programme.

The organisation hoped new Prime Minister Bill English would "step up and ditch and search for new oil".

The annual block offers between 2011 and 2015 brought in $7.7 billion in oil and gas exploration and production in New Zealand.