The oil and gas industry will be devastated to learn that the Government has more law changes in store for it – changes it hasn’t been up front about, National Party Energy and Resources spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“I understand the Government has hatched a secret Marine Mammals Protection Seismic Surveying Bill,” Mr Young says.

“This wasn’t in either of the two published coalition agreements.  Exactly when they planned to reveal this to the industry and the wider public is anyone’s guess.

“I also understand it’s the Government’s intention to introduce the Bill this year, yet today is the first notion anyone has had that legislative change was coming to an area that already has very high environmental standards.  The Government needs to explain what the Bill would do.

“Alarmingly we’re also hearing that beyond the Marine Mammals Protection Seismic Surveying Bill, the Government plans to very soon introduce legislation amending the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environment Effects) Amendment Bill.

“Again, the Government has said nothing about this, and if it’s true then there’s every reason to think it will have a big impact on the viability of the oil and gas industry.

“The Government’s primary defence of its completely irresponsible decision to axe new offshore oil and gas exploration has been that there’s enough potential resource in existing permits to transition away from them.

“But adding further legal and regulatory red tape to the areas covered by those permits will just do more to make them stranded assets.

“The permitted areas may contain reserves of oil and gas, but at this rate the owners of those permits aren’t going to be able to convince other operators to come into the market to help share the very high cost and risk of exploration – a practice known as farming out.

“What doesn’t make sense in all of this is that it’s happening at a time when natural gas is being seen as the most cost effective and environmentally responsible fuel to transition away from oil and coal.

“New Zealand’s natural gas resources could play a real role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, but this Government would rather make headlines by banning it.

“In doing so, they risk harming our domestic economy and the global environment.

“It’s clear that under this Government the door is closed to the resources sector.

“This is economic vandalism cloaked in naïve environmental sanctimony,” Mr Young says.

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