New Zealand has announced plans to no longer grant offshore oil exploration permits, a move that is seen as a major blow to the industry.
This restriction will apply only on new permits and not on the existing 22 permits, some of which have years of exploration rights still left.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the government ‘has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance’.
“Transitions have to start somewhere and unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country.”
The ban comes at a time when countries around the world are looking at ways to comply with the Paris climate change deal.
Countries such as France, Belize and Costa Rica have already banned offshore oil exploration, although these countries are not major oil sellers. Their announcement is seen more as symbolic representation.
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In the last ten years, oil majors such as Shell and Chevron have explored oil and gas offshore New Zealand.
The oil industry is disappointed with the ban and stated the decision was taken without consulting the industry.
Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand chief executive Cameron Madgwick was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “Huge investments have been made by companies already anticipating offshore block offers which have now gone to waste and people’s jobs will be affected.”