New Zealand to introduce bill to reverse oil and gas exploration ban

SYDNEY (Reuters)New Zealand's government will introduce legislation to remove a controversial ban on offshore petroleum exploration to attract investment to the country's oil and gas sector.

The bill would end the ban, in place since 2018, on exploration outside onshore Taranaki, an energy-rich region on New Zealand's North Island, Resources Minister Shane Jones said in a statement.

The bill will be introduced to parliament before the end of 2024, he said.

"As well as removing the ban, we are proposing changes to the way petroleum exploration applications are tendered and allocated, aligning the petroleum decommissioning regime with international best practice, and improving regulatory efficiency," Jones said. "Our current settings are a barrier to attracting investment in exploration and production because they are overly costly and onerous on industry."

New Zealand's right-of-center government released in November a number of policy plans, including the proposal to scrap the exploration ban by the previous center-left Labour-led government.

The New Zealand Green Party last year launched a petition to keep the ban, which environmental campaign group Greenpeace supports.

New Zealand exported around NZ$900 million of oil in 2022, while crown revenue from petroleum totalled NZ$214 million in 2022/23, government data show.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by Richard Chang)


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