'No plans' to ban oil, gas exploration altogether - Energy Minister Megan Woods

The Government is playing down rumours a ban on fossil fuel drilling is on the cards.

Earlier this month Energy Minister Megan Woods and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said no new permits would be issued (with exceptions for on-shore exploration in Taranaki), but existing permits would be honoured.

The Opposition and industry groups said the move would cost thousands of high-paying jobs in the regions, a claim rejected by the Government.

Ms Woods told TVNZ's Q+A on Sunday there were no plans to go a step further and ban mining for fossil fuels altogether.

"We have made no announcements about ending coal. We certainly haven't done any work," she said.

"We have done no work on banning coal… There are no plans to do that. We haven't done anything."

National has claimed the move will actually result in more carbon emissions, because coal will need to be burned to fill the gap left by natural gas.

It's estimated the existing permits will see drilling continue for up to 30 years.

"This is about a Government having the courage to do the right thing - lift its eyes beyond the three-year political cycle and make those long-term plans for the future," Ms Woods told Q+A.

Newshub.