New Zealand will no longer issue deep sea drilling permit for oil and gas.
The government said the surprise move is to protect future generations from climate change. Industry players have reacted with dismay while opposition politicians have called it “economic vandalism”.
The decision doesn’t affect 22 active offshore licenses with the last one set to finish in 2030. Those existing permits could then transition to mining permits which would allow up to a further 40 years of drilling, according to the government release today.
“There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The left-of-center ruling coalition has described the move as an important step to address climate change.
“We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand — we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change,” Ardern added.
France, Belize and Costa Rica are also set to place bans on either fossil fuel exploration or production, but none are considered as notable energy producers.
New Zealand produces oil and gas from all of its 22 licenses in the Taranaki Basin, a site just off the west coast of the North Island.
After receiving no warning of the decision, the reaction from fossil fuel organizations has been scathing. The Petroleum Exploration & Production Association New Zealand (PEPANZ) Chief Executive Cameron Madgwick told state broadcaster Radio NZ there should have been consultation before the decision was made.
“It shows a complete misunderstanding by the government of how our industry works … These are multi-decadal decisions, there are people here today that are looking forward to the future and what that might look like for their business,” he said.
The New Zealand Oil and Gas Company said in a statement it had not been made aware of the policy which it said appeared to contradict pre-election promises.