Offshore petroleum permit granted after court-ordered reconsideration

Publish date: 28 March 2023

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 as part of Block Offer 2017.

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.

About the reconsideration

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. 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.

The decision on Greymouth’s application was made before the offshore oil and gas exploration permitting ban came into effect. This means the reconsideration of the application had to also be carried out in accordance with the law as it was before the ban came into effect.

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

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