Offshore petroleum permit granted and Block Offer 2020 tender opens

Published: 28 March 2023

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals has granted an offshore petroleum exploration permit after a court-ordered reconsideration and released the Block Offer 2020 Invitation for Bids for onshore petroleum exploration in Taranaki.

Offshore petroleum permit granted after court-ordered reconsideration

An offshore petroleum exploration permit has today been granted to Greymouth Gas Turangi Limited (Greymouth) after the High Court ordered a reconsideration of its earlier application for a permit.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZP&M) initially declined Greymouth’s application in March 2018 as part of Block Offer 2017. In April 2018, the Government announced an end to further offshore petroleum exploration permits, and the Crown Minerals Act 1991 was amended in November 2018 to reflect this.

In October 2020, the High Court decided that the Crown was wrong to decline Greymouth’s application and that there were errors made when declining the application. The court ordered the Crown to reconsider the application on the basis that Greymouth would meet its work programme obligations.

Since the High Court order in 2020, NZP&M has been engaging with Greymouth on the complex task of re-evaluating the bid under the law at the time it was originally considered. The reconsideration of Greymouth’s application had to be carried out in accordance with the law as it was before the offshore oil and gas exploration ban came into effect. This has resulted in NZP&M granting the offshore petroleum exploration permit under delegated authority today.

“An exploration permit gives the permit holder the right to search for oil and gas in a specific area,” says Susan Baas, National Manager Petroleum and Minerals.

“There are a range of additional regulatory requirements, such as applying for resource consent, that a permit holder must fulfil before drilling activities can occur. 

“If Greymouth discovers commercial quantities of petroleum, they must then apply for a petroleum mining permit before carrying out any mining activity. The process for this application includes further consultation with affected iwi and hapū. In addition, separate environmental approval would be required,” Susan Baas said.

Greymouth has been granted Petroleum Exploration Permit 60403 for an area covering 225 km2, north-east of New Plymouth off the Taranaki coast. The permit has been granted for a period of 12 years and is subject to work programme obligations that relate to exploration activities.

The offshore oil and gas exploration permitting ban remains in place for all applications made after November 2018.

Block Offer 2020 tender opens for onshore Taranaki

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals has today launched the Block Offer 2020 tender for petroleum exploration permits. Block Offer 2020 is the last of three block offers previously committed to by the Government.

The release area is restricted to the onshore Taranaki region and covers 1,565.5 km².

“The Block Offer 'Invitation for Bids' document offers specific areas, or blocks, that companies can bid for to apply for petroleum exploration permits within that area,” said Susan Baas.

In December 2022, the Minister of Energy and Resources announced the Government would be deferring decisions on all petroleum block offers after Block Offer 2020 until early in the next parliamentary term. This does not impact Block Offer 2020.

“The launch of Block Offer 2020 follows consultation with iwi,” Susan Baas said.

“As a condition of any permit which may be granted from this process, permit holders will be explicitly required to regularly engage with iwi and hapū whose rohe may be directly affected by petroleum exploration activities.

“Permit holders must also report on this engagement. Activities to be undertaken within 200 metres of areas of significance to iwi will also require specific early engagement obligations,” Susan Baas said.

“MBIE consulted with Taranaki iwi on potential land based on geology, prospectivity and potential commercial interest,” Susan Baas said.

The final release area for Block Offer 2020 is 40% smaller than the consultation area. This reflects consideration of iwi interests, the potential of any resources located in the final release area, and the adequacy of protections under other legislation and through permit conditions.”

The tender will close on 26 July 2023. The outcome will be announced after bids have been evaluated and statutory decisions on any applications have been made.

More information on Block Offer 2017(external link) — New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals

More information on Block Offer 2020(external link) — New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals

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