Monday 22 Jul 2024
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(June 9): New Zealand’s government is pressing ahead with plans to lift a ban on offshore petroleum exploration, citing energy security challenges from “rapidly” declining natural gas reserves.

Gas is “critical” for the economy during periods of peak electricity demand and when generation dips from more intermittent sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower, Resources Minister Shane Jones said in a statement on Sunday.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s administration had pledged to resume offshore oil and gas prospecting, following last October’s election. Officials are also trying to speed up the construction of renewable plants.

The end of the moratorium will be proposed in the Crown Minerals Act amendments, to be introduced in parliament in the second half of 2024, according to the statement. Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick criticised the move, saying lifting the ban is a “severe” backward step amid a “climate crisis”.

New Zealand stopped offshore oil and gas exploration permits in 2018 under then-leader Jacinda Ardern, but continued to allow onshore projects.

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