“There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted,” Jacinda Ardern said in a written statement on the ministry’s webpage.
“This is a responsible step which provides certainty for businesses and communities that rely on fossil fuels. We’re striking the right balance for New Zealand – we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change,” she added.
“All three of the parties in this Government have agreed that we must take this step as part of our package of measures to tackle climate change,” Energy Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.
Woods said that existing exploration and mining rights would be protected.
“No current jobs will be affected by this as we are honoring all agreements with current permit holders,” she added.
“There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits currently active, 22 are offshore. These permits cover an area of 100,000 sq kms [38,610 square miles] nearly the size of the North Island, and run as far out as 2030 and could go an additional 40 years under a mining permit,” she said.
While environmentalists celebrated the decision as a victory, the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) said that the government’s decision was “surprising”.
In a statement, PEPANZ CEO Cameron Madgwick said the new measures would have a significant impact on the industry, stating that other types of fuel — which he said will be more expensive — will become an issue of energy security in the future.
Reporting by Recep Sakar:Writing by Meryem Goktas