9 Jun 2024

Industry thrilled at lifting of ban on oil and gas exploration

7:55 pm on 9 June 2024
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File photo. Photo: Supplied

An industry body is thrilled that the government is lifting the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.

Minister for Resources Shane Jones confirmed the reversal on Sunday, saying New Zealand's natural gas reserves were declining and sustainable sources like wind, solar and hydro were too inconsistent.

"Natural gas is critical to keeping our lights on and our economy running, especially during peak electricity demand and when generation dips because of more intermittent sources like wind, solar and hydro," Jones said.

The reversal was signalled in the government's coalition agreement.

Industry group Energy Resources Aotearoa said it was thrilled the ban was being lifted.

Chief executive John Carnegie said lifting the ban was a sensible and pragmatic policy, and a secure gas supply would support the transition towards renewable energy.

"I think it's a misnomer to think it's a binary - either gas, or achieving our climate change goals.

"We can actually have more gas, and achieve our climate change goals.

"Natural gas will help underpin the ongoing development of renewable electricity."

"The gas sector operates under extremely stringent environmental consenting and operational rules - some of the toughest in the world - so there's very, very low risk to our natural environment from oil and gas production."

Chloe Swarbrick

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

But Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said the Government was ignoring international advice.

"The International Energy Agency told us that we needed to see no new ... oil, coal and gas from 2021, so the science is incredibly clear."

The Labour Party said the reversal it was a massive step backwards in Aotearoa's climate response.

Labour energy spokesperson Megan Woods, who introduced the ban as energy minister in 2018, said the policy would not help the transition to renewable energy and gave fossil fuel companies free rein to exploit the environment.

"This will lock in emissions for decades to come."

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