The Environmental Protection Authority says it is shortening its hearing into the Maui gas field off the coast of Taranaki.
Shell Todd Oil Services are seeking the right to keep on operating the gas field for another 35 years.
Their application starts being considered on 29 April and a decision was expected by June.
The authority said it was shortening its hearing because only 24 of the 141 submitters said they wanted to be heard in person.
It said the abbreviated hearing was nothing to do with recent complaints that EPA procedures are cumbersome and expensive.
This matter was being considered by officials at the Ministry for the Environment.
The application concerns a gas field that was discovered in 1963 and started producing in 1979.
But under new legislation governing New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, it needed a marine consent to keep on operating.
It was not clear how the 35 year extension being sought fits in with the fact that Maui was written off as facing depletion ten years ago but has had its life expectancy extended several times since then.