New report into petroleum exploration ban welcomed

A new report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment into the ban on new petroleum exploration permits outside onshore Taranaki has been welcomed by the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).

“This is a useful contribution that highlights some of the serious implications of the 2018 decision,” says PEPANZ Chief Executive John Carnegie.

“Our focus now is on the future and working collaboratively with the Government to manage the serious challenges created by this policy. We want to ensure we can keep delivering affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to New Zealanders.

“This is especially important now as our economy faces a major shock from COVID-19, and when our homes, hospitals and essential services are relying on our energy.

“Given we are still going to use oil and gas as we transition, we think it makes sense to develop our own resources rather than import from overseas. Without careful planning we could easily end up sleepwalking our way to dependence on LNG imports from overseas.

“The report notes how the decision was made with ‘limited analysis’ and truncated consultation. We think a much better model would have been the process used for the Zero Carbon Act which was well-signalled and widely consulted on.

“Without enduring political consensus, it makes it harder to build confidence and certainty for businesses which will be crucial as we rebuild the economy.

“It’s surprising and disappointing the Commissioner didn’t talk to us or anyone in our industry as this could have helped produce an even stronger report. It’s unusual not to liaise directly with affected stakeholders, and quite a different approach to other work by the Commissioner.

“Sadly, this lack of engagement mirrors the process for the 2018 decision itself. If asked we could have explained, for example, that the 2018 Block Offer would have had the most ever nominations for acreage. This shows that contrary to some rhetoric, exploration interest in New Zealand was increasing.”