New Zealand Government Seeks to Revive Oil and Gas Exploration

The center-right New Zealand government expressed its intention on Sunday, June 9th, to overturn the ban on new oil and gas explorations that was put in place in 2018. This announcement has sparked outrage from the opposition and environmental groups in the country.

The government’s proposal to revive oil and gas exploration has immediately stirred controversy. The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Shane Jones, defended the decision by stating that natural gas is essential for lighting and powering the economy, especially during peak consumption periods. In addition to gas exploration, the minister also plans to streamline the tender procedures for oil exploration requests. He highlighted that the oil and mining sector contributed over 1.1 billion euros to the GDP in 2020-2021. Jones, a member of the center-right government in power since November, criticized the previous government (Labour) for banning explorations in 2018, which hindered investments in the development of known gas reserves.

In response, Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick accused the government of exacerbating climate change with its focus on gas and oil. She advocated for a more sustainable and efficient economy by prioritizing clean energy sources. This announcement from the center-right government follows recent protests in major cities in New Zealand against another government initiative aimed at boosting the economy. This second project seeks to expedite approvals for large infrastructure projects and bypass several existing environmental regulations.

In other news, Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang is scheduled to visit New Zealand this week, as confirmed by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Luxon on Monday, June 10th. Luxon expressed anticipation for Li’s visit and highlighted the opportunity to discuss areas of cooperation between New Zealand and China. China is New Zealand’s top trading partner, with Chinese consumers showing a strong preference for New Zealand meat, wine, and milk products. While New Zealand has historically been one of China’s closest partners among Western democracies, tensions have arisen in recent years as China expands its military and diplomatic influence in the Pacific. Li’s visit could signify a potential reconciliation between the two countries.