Oil industry concerned over Govt probe into exploration permits

  • 20/03/2018

The Prime Minister says reconsidering oil and gas permits in New Zealand is something every Government does at this time of year.

But an oil industry executive is concerned, saying any future ban could hit the country economically.

On Monday a Greenpeace petition signed by 45,000 people was presented to Parliament, calling for an end to oil exploration, drilling and seismic testing.

Jacinda Ardern made a surprise appearance to accept the petition and make a speech, asking people to give the Government more time to decide whether to introduce a ban.

"Of course we are looking at the whole raft of options [including banning oil drilling]," Ms Ardern told The AM Show on Tuesday.

"These are all long-run issues so there are some permits that are already out there, for instance, that have a shelf life of 10 to 20 years.

"So any decision you make now then has a knock-on effect for another couple of decades."

Petroleum Exploration & Production NZ chief executive Cameron Madgwick told The AM Show a block to further exploration will be "very detrimental to New Zealand's economy".

"It's probably also a lose for the environment," he said.

The industry brings around $2.5b into the economy annually, and is linked to 11,000 high-paying jobs (averaging $105,000) - but Ms Ardern says those figures could be outdated.

Mr Madgwick stands by them.

"The exact numbers go up and down as the industry goes through its cycles of more or less work. But when we're at our peak, it's absolutely at that 10,000, 11,000 number.

"We believe the industry has a strong role to play in helping the Government achieve its net zero emissions target."

Ms Ardern says the Government will need a few more weeks before it can openly discuss its plans.

"What we're making sure is that we are taking into consideration the transition we need, environmental impacts [and] economic impacts.

"We've said as a country we want to transfer to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. So we have to factor that into our planning as well."