The National spokesman on Energy & Resources, Jonathan Young claims the Government has painted itself into a corner with its oil and gas exploration ban.
Young, who is MP for New Plymouth, said a law change to make it happen is stalled while the Minister of Energy tries to write a bill that won’t spark a judicial review.
“It’s one of the consequences of the ill-conceived ban that this Government made without any consultation. Another is that two-thirds of the way through this year there is no sign of Block Offer 2018, where the Government would supposedly offer permits for onshore exploration.
“Last year’s Block Offer 2017 was open for bids in March 2017 but we will be lucky if the 2018 offer is opened for bids by Christmas.”
He said the Government has made a massive blunder because it didn’t consult the sector, and rejected the recommendations of their officials.
“Officials advised that there would be no significant benefit to New Zealand’s emission profile from the ban and it could even increase emissions. At the same time there is a risk of massive losses to NZ’s economy and Government revenues.
“Amendments to the Crown Minerals Act to give effect to the April announcement of the new offshore permit ban will turn up in Parliament shortly after going through Cabinet. Meanwhile, invitations for bids for Block Offer 2018 are on hold while the Minister of Energy attempts to close off any legal challenges.
“There’s no surprise business confidence is so weak when the Government demonstrates such muddled thinking on its energy policies and processes. Fortunately for the short term, some companies already had plans underway which were unaffected by the Government ban.”
Others, he said, have been caught out and their future in New Zealand looks bleak. The Government’s ideology and business ineptness is chilling off future investment.
Young said tThis comes at a time when the Asia Pacific region’s demand for energy is growing – much of it met by coal-fired power stations. New Zealand could help meet some of that need with natural gas, reducing emissions and benefitting our economy with more jobs and opportunities.
“We will lose the momentum in a highly skilled, high paying sector that pays good revenues to the Crown.
“We will also lose the opportunity to contribute to emission reductions in the Asia-Pacific region which is highly dependent on coal-fired generation.
“It would’ve been smarter if the government hadn’t given in to the pressures of Greenpeace and the Green Party, and taken a more consultative and listening approach - but they didn’t.”