Gareth Hughes versus Megan Woods on oil and gas exploration

Green MP Gareth Hughes has made it clear that he and the Green party disapprove of a concession given to the oil and gas exploration industry, as announced by Minister of Energy Megan Woods.

Hughes in a speech in parliament in March:  End Oil Exploration, General Debate Speech

While the media debate the pros and cons of oil exploration you can’t debate the physics of climate change.

Scientists warn we can’t afford to burn 75% of the fossil fuels we’ve already discovered if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.

A study in Nature Communications last year found if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest climate change in 420 million years!

Exploring for more oil is like pouring petrol into an already filled gas tank and lighting a match.

This is the nuclear-free moment of our generation.

We find ourselves at an important historic turning point – will we continue exploring for new oil and gas that we can’t afford to burn?

To get there we need to transition away from fossil fuels like oil.

Given some existing permits don’t expire until expire 2046 we need to stop granting more.

That’s why I’m calling on the government to stop offering new exploration permits for fossil fuels.

Our future isn’t more oil rigs off our coasts it’s wind turbines on our hills, insulation under our roofs, solar panels on top; modern public transport in our cities and sustainable zero-carbon jobs in our regions.

I support the end to exploration.

On Monday: Bill to end new offshore oil and gas permits a win for the planet

The Green Party welcome the introduction of the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill, which will legislate to officially stop new offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

“This is a special day for the planet, and proof that this Government are now meaningfully acting to address climate change”, Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

“This is Greens in Government at its best and represents an important step to stopping new offshore permits, so that our environment is better protected.

“We’re looking forward to the upcoming wider review of the Act. We will push hard to change the purpose of the Act so that exploration is ‘regulated’, not ‘promoted’ by this Government.

Surprisingly given the Green Party’s in ending the use fossil fuels and ending oil and gas exploration it looks like they were blind sided by Woods’ announcement on Tuesday:

Mining companies with existing licenses for drilling have a time limit on when they can explore. If they reach the time limit, their permits are handed back to the Crown.

Oil drillers shouldn’t be offered special treatment to extend or waive that time limit. I struggle to see the point in banning offshore exploration for oil and gas if existing companies with huge blocks can hold off from exploring until way later down the track.

Hughes followed up in Parliament yesterday:

Question No. 7—Energy and Resources

7. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by her reported statement that she will “consider giving the oil companies more time to fulfil their commitments on the permits”; if so, which permits are currently facing a “drill or drop” decision in the next two years?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): Yes, I am in discussion with officials regarding the possibility of exercising my statutory powers, as the responsible Minister, to make changes to petroleum exploration permits. Any such change would be made on a case by case basis under the current law. There are 16 permits with “drill or drop” decisions in the next two years. More information about all active petroleum exploration permits, including “drill or drop decision” points, is publicly available on the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website. As the member is aware, our Government is committed to a long-term transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, and the introduction of legislation this week reflects exactly that commitment.

Gareth Hughes: Does she stand by the Government’s historic decision to halt offshore oil and gas exploration, and if so, does she think a long tail of up to 16 active permits undermines this decision?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: In answer to the first part of the question, yes, and in answer to the second part, no. As we’ve been clear, the Government is committed to a long-term transition away from fossil fuel exploration and a clear plan for our future. We’re achieving this by issuing no further offshore exploration permits, while also protecting the existing exploration permits that cover 100,000 square kilometres, to enable a smooth transition over the coming decades. This is a sensible approach that allows regions, communities, industry, and the workforce a just transition to a low-carbon future and avoids sudden economic shocks like we saw in the 1980s.

Gareth Hughes: Does she agree with recent comments by our climate ambassador Jo Tyndall that this Government has sent a clear signal to industry that we are phasing out oil and gas extraction, and if so, does relaxing the work programme deadlines on permits undermine that message?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I do agree and am proud that we are ending offshore exploration and are committed to a just transition, and we’re not relaxing those conditions.

Gareth Hughes: If the Minister grants extensions to any offshore permits, will she limit their duration, and if so, what time frame will she use?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As I indicated in my primary question, each of these needs to be on a case by case basis, and I will consider those applications on a case by case basis.

Gareth Hughes: Will the Minister commit to passing more wide-ranging changes to the Crown Minerals Act (CMA) this term to ensure New Zealand does transition away from fossil fuel extraction?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As the member knows, the first tranche of the CMA reforms was introduced this week. This legislation is to give effect to the Government’s decision about the future of offshore petroleum exploration. Our intention is to begin tranche two following the passage of this legislation, and we’ve long signalled that tranche two will involve a comprehensive review of the CMA and will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose as we make this transition. The Government’s decision about—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! That’s enough. That’s enough.

Hughes followed that up:

Hughes is the Green Party spokesperson for Energy & Resources. It seems odd that he hasn’t been closer to Woods and what she is doing and announcing on this – has she ignored Hughes and the Greens?

Surprisingly there is no mention of fossil fuels or oil and gas in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

And as Climate Change Minister where is James Shaw on this? Last week in an email to party supporters – James Shaw promoting Green achievements

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

It seems that they didn’t get as much as they thought they had.


Leave a comment


  1. robertguyton

     /  27th September 2018

    I/S has another opinion to add:
    “A breach of faith

    A further thought on Labour’s two-faced attempt to roll back the offshore oil exploration ban by stealth. I’ve already said that this is where the Greens should put their foot down and threaten to topple the government, but there’s another reason for why they need to do so: because Megan Woods’ dirty little plan to keep the oil industry around rather than ending it has undermined the very basis of the coalition itself.

    When the government said it was ending offshore exploration, it was very clear that current permit holders would keep their existing rights. That’s the sort of compromise you get in coalitions, and its one that all three parties apparently agreed to. Woods’ dirty little deal to grant polluters additional rights violates this agreement. And it represents a fundamental breach of faith with the Greens.

    Workable coalitions depend on good faith between the parties, on a mutual trust that the other parties aren’t going to go behind your back and undermine the agreed-upon policies. And that’s recognised in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement with an explicit clause to “work together in good faith and with no surprises”. Labour has just pissed on this. And in doing so, they’ve demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to keep their word on issues of fundamental importance to their partners.

    There can be no trust under such circumstances. There can be no coalition under such circumstances. the Greens need to make that crystal clear to Labour, and tell them to reverse Woods’ dirty little deal, or they will pull the plug.”

    • Blazer

       /  27th September 2018

      ‘the Greens should put their foot down and threaten to topple the government, ‘

      dumber and dumber.

      • Gezza

         /  27th September 2018

        Yes. Good thinking by I/S. I just can see National rushing to form a coalition with the Greens post-early election & give them everything they demand. Labour strategists will probably already have been up all night worrying about this possibility.

        • PartisanZ

           /  27th September 2018

          Touche Gezza … cutting sarcasm …

          The Greens were one point ahead of NZFirst in Colmar Brunton’s 5 August polling …

          If polling is any indication, they would be the main coalition partner in a general election if all other polling was correct at the ballot …

          … and if NZFirst dipped just 1/10th of a percentage point and didn’t win an electorate they’d be gone …

          • PartisanZ

             /  27th September 2018

            That’s Greens 6%, NZFirst 5% …

            • Gezza

               /  27th September 2018

              I can’t see National being anywhere near as accommodating to the Greens as Labour, PZ. No matter how desperate they might be to form a coalition, don’t you think to do this would infuriate so many of their supporters and backers they’d be a one-term government? There’s still too big a risk National might come out ahead in an early election – Simon’s performance is still being evaluated and National as a party is still polling high.

              The next set of polls is going to be intriguing – there’ve been a lot of developments in the last month; I’m hard pressed to pick what the effects on the polls would be. I wish we had more frequent published polls.

      • PartisanZ

         /  27th September 2018

        Shouldn’t let Winnie have all the “threatening to topple the guvment” fun Blazer …

        The Greens could maybe play a hand and see if Labour calls their bluff?

        Or not bluff … as they decide …

      • Zedd

         /  27th September 2018

        not like Blazer.. they have more to gain from remaining where they are & trying to NEGOTIATE a better option.. methinks

        they will not get better by giving Natl the option

  2. Blazer

     /  27th September 2018

    Gareth popping up to show he is actually alive.

    With Golriz and the gals hogging the limelight ,he gets a supporting role.

    • Gezza

       /  27th September 2018

      The Greens are still in my good books today for letting Gareth play too.

    • artcroft

       /  27th September 2018

      Who’s this Gareth everyone keeps talking about?

      • Blazer

         /  27th September 2018

        halfback for…Wales.

      • Corky

         /  27th September 2018

        Pink holster..bent trigger finger, Arty. That’s all you will want to know.

      • “Who’s this Gareth everyone keeps talking about?”
        It’s true, everyone keeps talking about him, ’cause he’s, you know, one of your Green Overlords, making decisions for your Own Good, We all pay him, generously, to do important work for us, such as ending oil exploration in NZ and halting runaway climate change. Gareth; what a great guy! (Thanks team, for backing him so selflessly!).

  1. Gareth Hughes versus Megan Woods on oil and gas exploration — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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