10 Feb 2012

Exploration permits to be offered on new blocks

8:08 am on 10 February 2012

The Government is making 25 new blocks of land and seabed available for oil and gas exploration.

But this year, for the first time, companies will have to enter a competitive tender process for permits to explore, instead of a first-in, first-served basis.

The new blocks cover more than 40,000 square km of seabed and nearly 6000 square km of land in Waikato, Taranaki, Tasman, the West Coast and Southland.

Resources Minister Phil Heatley says the competitive process will help develop New Zealand's significant resource wealth.

The Government is consulting iwi and councils before confirming which blocks are up for tender.

The Green Party says the blocks on offer in the Great South Basin, off the south coast of the South Island, are particularly risky places to explore.

Energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes says there is no guarantee of safety with deepwater oil drilling, so New Zealand should not allow it.