Government’s oil permit announcement shows broken NZ oil industry

Press release - December 15, 2016
The absence of any offshore oil permits and just a single onshore permit in the just-announced 2016 Block Offer shows that the National Government’s oil agenda is broken, says Greenpeace.

Climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the Government’s revelation that only a single onshore oil permit has been granted to a local company in the latest round of Block Offers indicates that the oil industry is in big trouble.

Last year nine permits were granted, which at the time was also a dramatic drop on previous years.

“If the Government was waiting for a sign that the Block Offer programme needed to be ditched, this is it,” Simock says.

“There is no interest from foreign companies, and oil majors are actually pulling out of permits. We’ve seen zero economic benefit from offshore oil.”

Oil companies have recently been leaving New Zealand en masse.

Less than a week ago, Texan oil giant Anadarko ditched two of its major permits in the Pegasus Basin.

This came hot on the heels of Norwegian petroleum company, Statoil, announcing the withdrawal of 90% of its New Zealand assets.

And their partial withdrawal came after the complete exit in previous years of two other drillers in New Zealand – Petrobras and ExxonMobil.

Australian media has also reported that New Zealand’s biggest oil company, Shell, is preparing to sell its entire portfolio here, which includes oil exploration and production assets.
The Block Offer announcement comes just days after the anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, which saw New Zealand commit to reducing its emissions.

Simock says new Prime Minister Bill English now needs to “step up to the plate” and show some leadership on climate change. 

Yesterday Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, appeared in a video letter challenging English to prove he wasn’t “Trumping”: A reference to incoming American President and climate denier, Donald Trump.

Simock says all New Zealand gets from pushing oil is risk.  

“There is the risk to our marine life from the seismic blasting that’s happening off the East Coast, and the risk to our international reputation for being hypocrites when it comes to responding to climate change,” she says.

“New Zealanders don’t want to take this risk.  The public, iwi and now many major local councils are vocally opposing the Block Offer programme. The new Prime Minister needs to listen to the public and ditch the search for any new oil.

“Science tells us that we can’t afford to burn 80% of known fossil fuel reserves if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe - but the New Zealand Government has missed the memo.

“If Bill English is any sort of leader, now is the time to listen to people all over the country and ditch oil. There’s a new clean economy just around the corner, and we are getting left behind.”