New Zealand bans all new offshore oil and gas exploration

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Taranaki, New Zealand

New Zealand’s government announced today it has banned all new offshore oil and gas exploration in an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

By ending new oil and gas exploration, the recently elected coalition government has effectively put the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on the planet — covering more than 4 million square kilometres — off limits for any new fossil fuel exploitation.

‘The announcement comes as a significant blow to global oil companies that have pinned their hopes on finding oil here in future. There will be public discourse in New Zealand over whether to allow companies with existing licenses — including Statoil and OMV — to carry out extraction if oil or gas were discovered,’ said Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman.

The New Zealand government will continue offering the onshore region of Taranaki for exploration, and will also not revoke any existing exploration contracts.

Although welcomed by the previous government, foreign oil companies have met strong resistance from the New Zealand public, Indigenous communities, and environmental NGOs. Over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of people have marched, petitioned, and blockaded in opposition to oil exploration.

Over the past decade, some of the world’s largest oil companies have sought to search for and exploit fossil fuel reserves off the country’s isolated shores. Shell, Anadarko, Petrobras, Statoil, Chevron and OMV are among a list of foreign companies to undertake seismic surveying and exploratory drilling in the country’s deep seas, which threatens marine mammals.

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