Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Newzealand Bans New Offshore Drilling, Citing Climate Change

Newzealand Bans New Offshore Drilling, Citing Climate Change

New Zealand said on Thursday it would not grant any new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration, taking the industry by surprise with a decision that it said would push investment overseas.

Simon Bridges, " the leader of this center right National Party, New Zealand's main opposition party, said on Twitter that the choice to end oil and gas exploration was "a wrecking chunk" that might just hurt the country.

"The point is we are going to be a net zero economy by the year 2050 and that over the course of the next 30 years we are going to be transitioning away from fossil fuels and much more into renewables and other forms of energy and industry", explains James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party.

"New Zealand Oil & Gas intends to manage the risks associated with the government's policy change by investing in exploration and production assets in other jurisdictions", the company said in a stock exchange statement.

"Thousands of households in Taranaki depend on the oil and gas industry and while we all want to see a more sustainable future for New Zealand we had expected to be having a comprehensive conversation about a planned and staged transition", he said.

"There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits now active, 22 are offshore".

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Chief Executive Andrew Jefferies says two thirds of the country's energy use is industrial and transport related, and fully renewable alternatives are not viable.

"The announcements to stop new oil and gas block offers are very welcome but are long overdue".

Over the past decade some of the world's largest energy companies have searched for fossil fuel reserves off the coast of New Zealand.

New Zealand exports about $1.1 billion worth of oil per year, less than it imports, according to The New York Times.

Fear of the economic costs have been strongest in the regions - Taranaki in particular - and New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a "kick in the guts".

"This decision is devoid of any rationale".

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Welcomed by environmentalists, the move has attracted energy sector criticism for lack of consultation and questions over supplying New Zealand's long-term energy requirements. "It certainly has nothing to do with climate change", Young said.

"New Zealand First's support is predicated by its commitment to protect the rights of existing permit holders. these permits continue as far out as 2046". "These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions", he said.

"By stopping New Zealand's gas exploration we are turning our backs on an opportunity to help reduce global emissions while providing a major economic return to improve our standard of living and the environment". In its announcement however, the government said it wanted to be clear no current jobs would be affected.

The move provoked bitter responses from the oil industry, which stated New Zealand would be made to count on more high priced imports.

The announcement does not apply to onshore exploration permits.

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