Government facing the reality of importing gas

A flurry of revelations in the past month show the oil and gas ban is unfolding exactly as officials predicted, National’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods told Parliament today that since the oil and gas ban in 2018, 88,000 square kilometres of exploration permits have been relinquished, and she has asked for reports on whether New Zealand will soon need to import LNG.

“All of this could have been predicted when the Government rocked the energy sector’s confidence by banning new oil and gas exploration,” Ms Kuriger says.

In relinquishing its Toroa and Clipper permits, NZ Oil and Gas listed “adverse regulatory settings for offshore exploration” as one of a confluence of events that led to the decision.

“The Minister refused to listen to officials who said the ban would lead to more reliance on coal, pointing to 100,000 square kilometres permitted for exploration. Today that number is less than 20,000 with no exploration happening outside of Taranaki,” Ms Kuriger says.

“Megan Woods has now taken the remarkable step of asking for advice on New Zealand importing LNG. It’s crazy for an energy-rich country like us to be in the position of needing to import gas to keep the lights on.

“The minister will claim this all has nothing to do with her ban, but the advice she has received is that New Zealand needs about $100 million of investment each year just in our existing wells to keep up production. Since the ban, this investment has naturally been harder to attract, and production at our largest well, Pohokura, has shrunk 25 per cent.

“With gas production falling, New Zealand burned 800,000 tonnes of coal for electricity generation last year. That is four times the amount being burned before Labour was in government.

“Wholesale electricity prices are also reaching $300 a megawatt hour, compared to about $50 a megawatt hour before the Labour Government took over. This will soon filter through to retail prices for consumers.

“Labour’s oil and gas ban is turning out exactly as predicted: New Zealand has lost energy security, greenhouse gas emissions have gone up, and consumers will pay more for electricity.”