15 Dec 2022

Government defers oil and gas exploration block offers, seeks submissions on offshore wind

4:02 pm on 15 December 2022
Southern Star Oil rig platform at sunset with  Mt Taranaki in the background

The government is sticking to its plan to decarbonise the energy sector, Energy Minister Megan Woods says. Photo: Supplied

The government has announced it is deferring a decision on whether to offer any future oil and gas exploration block offers.

It means there will be no further petroleum exploration permits granted, beyond those already underway, until early in the next Parliamentary term.

Energy Minister Megan Woods made the announcement in New Plymouth today.

"I am not committing to any further block offers now. Decisions will be made early in the next Parliamentary term when there will be a better evidence base of future demand," Woods said.

"This government is committed to scaling up the renewable energy sector to phase out harmful fossil fuels. While fossil fuels remain essential today, the needs of tomorrow need to be properly understood to support future generations of New Zealanders.

"During this time, I will continue engagement with Taranaki hapū and iwi on the future of the block offer process, to better understand their position."

Megan Woods

Megan Woods wants to engage with Taranaki hapū and iwi on the future of the block offer process. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

In 2018, the previous coalition government announced an end to new offshore oil drilling and committed to another three rounds of block offers (2018, 2019 and 2020), the permit tender process for new drilling in onshore Taranaki.

Two of the tenders have been completed and the last (2020) remains in progress.

"Our actions to date have made room for clean renewables to take over from polluting oil and gas. I am committed to keeping up this momentum to decarbonise the energy sector," Woods said.

The minister also announced that the government would be seeking public submissions on the development of offshore renewable energy infrastructure, such as windfarms.

"Offshore renewables have the potential to produce the electricity needed to replace fossil fuels and support New Zealand's transition to net zero by 2050.

"Technology like wind farms set off the coast of New Zealand can deliver a clean, stable source of renewable energy to help us become more energy-independent and avoid the fluctuations in cost of fossil fuels like oil and coal."

But Woods said offshore wind also had potential environmental and cultural impacts which would be closely examined before decisions would be made about which projects could be constructed and this would require developers to work closely with iwi to understand these impacts.

"We firmly see Taranaki's future as still being an energy future. New Zealand has high levels of renewable resources - so we are well positioned globally to create a sustainable energy system for generations to come.

"Ensuring we have the right settings in place to encourage development of offshore renewable infrastructure will enable us to deliver net zero emissions by 2050."

The public can make submissions via the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website until April 14.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs