New Zealand's oil and gas, and minerals sectors are again to
the fore of Government economic thinking, with the release of
an inaugural combined report on the contentious sectors
The Government is considering a new nine-month time limit for
giving consent for ''projects of national significance'' - a
politically charged and debatable area.
While there is a groundswell of concern from
environmentalists and the public over deep-sea drilling and
onshore fracking practices, and how resource consents for
both are processed, the Government has signalled the dual
sectors remain ''fundamental'' to the country's economy.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Energy and
Resources Minister Simon Bridges in Wellington yesterday
released the 158-page ''Petroleum and Minerals Sector
Report'', which outlined how, during the past 10 years,
employment in the sectors has more than doubled and exports
There had been low-key talk of the report last week at the
New Zealand branch meeting of the Australasian Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy in Nelson, but Mr Bridges gave no
public hint of its forthcoming release.
Mr Bridges said the petroleum and minerals sectors produced
commodities ''fundamental to the economy'', for energy from
oil, gas and coal; steel; gold and silver; fertiliser; and
rock, sand and gravel for construction and roads.
The offshore Great South Basin surrounding Otago and
Southland is likely to have Anadarko drilling off the coast
next January, and possibly Shell the following summer, in
one-hole deep-water test drilling programmes, possibly worth
$NZ129 million each, but of only small financial benefit to
Mr Bridges said the forthcoming oil and gas exploration
this summer would be one of the largest on record in New
Zealand, with 13 exploratory wells being drilled offshore and
''The industry is expected to spend $600 million to $755
million,'' he said.
The report outlined ''significant'' but unspecified
Government investment in collating geophysical data to
attract explorers, and a new competitive system for releasing
oil and gas permits.
Of most public interest will be rules on the consent process,
with the Government ''speeding up'' and setting time limits
on the process under the Resource Management Act.
The report comes on the heels of last week's announcement by
Minister for the Environment Amy Adams who wants to introduce
a new non-notified discretionary classification for marine
consents; meaning the Marine Legislation Bill would transfer
regulations governing dumping and other discharges from the
jurisdiction of Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA oversees regulations from 12 nautical miles offshore
to the 200-mile limit of New Zealand's exclusive economic
Labour's Maryan Street said not notifying the public would
deprive New Zealanders of the right to challenge deep-sea oil
and gas exploration, highlighted by the Rena grounding
and oil spill and the Deepwater Horizon platform disaster in
the US in the Gulf of Mexico, in April 2010.
''Amy Adams' latest proposed changes mean the public will not
be allowed to have their say on activities such as oil and
gas exploration, discharges of harmful substances and dumping
of waste in the exclusive economic zone,'' Ms Street said.