New Zealand on Wednesday awarded nine new oil and gas permits for the Taranaki Basin just days after signing on to the UN climate agreement in Paris, drawing ire from the opposition over a perceived lack of climate policy ambition.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges awarded four permits to OMV NZ in partnership with Mitsui E&P Australia, three to Petrochem, which is Chevron’s NZ operation, and one each to Todd Exploration and Mont D’Or Resources.
The permits were the outcome of this year’s Block Offer, an annual tender where exploration firms bid for access to explore in NZ waters.
“Some have questioned the government’s commitment to the Block Offer and petroleum exploration, suggesting we should embrace the fall in commodity prices as part of a general push toward renewable energy,” said Bridges, who is also associate minister for climate change.
“I have absolute faith in New Zealand’s renewable advantage, and I take every opportunity to promote it here and on the international stage. But petroleum products are prevalent in almost every part of our day to day lives. I am committed to a mixed and balanced approach to our energy potential, and will continue to pursue an ‘all of the above’ policy as New Zealand and the world transitions towards a low-carbon future,” he said.
The announcement came just four days after New Zealand signed on to the Paris Agreement on climate change, binding itself to its pledge to cut GHG emissions to 11% below 1990 levels by 2030, a commitment described by analysts as “inadequate”.
Observers worldwide have applauded the Paris deal, saying it would help kick-start a process to wean the world off fossil fuels, and the exploration permit announcement irked the opposition Green Party.
“National couldn’t even wait a week after world leaders agreed on a plan to stop climate change before giving out new permits for foreign companies to drill for fossil fuels in New Zealand waters,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
“In the few days since Associate Climate Change Minister Simon Bridges has returned from the Paris climate conference, he’s given out oil exploration permits and opened a big new highway designed for trucks. We haven’t seen any commitment by this government to actually making any changes that would lower New Zealand’s carbon pollution, in fact we’ve seen the opposite,” said Hughes.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org