The loophole means there is no clear end date on offshore drilling, despite the Government announcing an end to further permits earlier this year.
The Government is currently consulting on a law change to implement a moratorium on further offshore oil and gas exploration. However, under the current rules, it has also given a two year extension to Austrian company OMV on their permit to search and drill for oil in the waters off Dunedin.
The Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to be put forward by the Green Party would remove the ability to extend existing permits.
Green Party spokesperson on Energy Gareth Hughes says that the rules need to change in order to give certainty:
“The whole point of ending future offshore permits was to ensure a smooth transition away from fossil fuels. To extend existing permits defeats the purpose.
“A key part of the proposed law that needs strengthening is to put a clear deadline on current permits. Right now there are 28 active mining or prospecting permits which, under this law, could be used until the oil runs out if the Minister agrees for them to be extended.
“There is an urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels to combat runaway climate change, as highlighted by the recent report of the IPCC
“To provide certainty for those companies and our environment we must draw a line in the sand and put a firm deadline on these permits.
“We have to get this right, this Government has the opportunity to get this right by supporting the Green Party SOP”.