Block Offer 2018
The Minister runs a block offer to allocate petroleum exploration permits. Parliament passed legislation in November 2018 amending the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (CMA), to restrict the acreage available for any new petroleum permits to the onshore Taranaki region. Under Block Offer 2018, companies are invited to tender for permits to explore for oil and gas in this area only.
Before this can occur, we consult with iwi and hapū in these areas and ask them to identify areas of significance or sensitivity that the Minister of Energy and Resources needs to be aware of before deciding what should be included in the tender.
This could include sites that might need to be protected for their cultural significance (for example, sites that are not protected by other legislation). The Minister may remove these from the block offer, or put conditions over certain areas to protect them.
Iwi consultation commenced on 28 November and submissions closed on 14 March 2019.
Local authorities were also notified of the proposed blocks.
The final area for tender is expected to be announced in the second quarter of 2019.
The block offer is a tender used to allocate petroleum exploration permits. Following consultation, the Minister releases a specific area or areas for bids. These release areas are made up of blocks, and bidders can bid for one or more adjoining blocks. This allows bidders to define their desired permit area based on their own analysis of the data available.
The proposed 2018 area that contains the blocks we consulted on was selected based on its prospectivity, available data, anticipated commercial interest, and alignment with the recent amendments to the CMA.
Since an earlier consultation with iwi and hapū in April 2018 , some additional areas were added to the proposed consultation area:
- Existing permits over two small areas in onshore Taranaki have been relinquished during 2018. These areas were included.
- An additional area on the eastern side of the Taranaki region was included in the area for consultation. This area has some evidence of supportive geology and prospectivity, and there has recently been heightened commercial interest in this and other onshore areas in the Taranaki region.
- Conservation land is now intended to be included in blocks offered, but the CMA now provides that entry into Taranaki conservation land can only be for minimum impact activities.
Proposed Block Offer 2018 consultation blocks
The proposed consultation blocks for Block Offer 2018 are limited to the onshore Taranaki region, and covers 2,200km2. Only the areas in orange below were consulted on.
The Taranaki region is prospective for oil, gas and condensate, and has been producing oil and gas commercially since the early 20th century.
Protecting sensitive areas
Areas of importance to Māori identified in section 3.1 of the Petroleum Programme (such as Mount Taranaki and the Pouakai, Pukeiti and Kaitake Ranges) are not included in the Block Offer. Parikaha Pā has also been excluded along with land that is being investigated by the New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki iwi regarding possible wāhi tapu sites. Iwi and hapū can request the removal of areas within blocks, or put conditions on any permits over certain areas to protect them.
The November 2018 amendments to the CMA prohibit access to Taranaki conservation land, as part of the Block Offer process, except for minimum impact activities.
These areas will be subject to the access restrictions detailed above.
The blocks for consultation for Block Offer 2018 included approximately 84km2 of public conservation land. This is just under 4 per cent of the 2,200km2consultation block. The proposed blocks did not include any land listed in Schedule 4 of the CMA (including national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries) or World Heritage sites.
The purpose of the block offer is to allocate petroleum exploration permits. In most cases, the sensitivity of specific sites is dealt with after a permit is granted. Protections in the regulatory framework include consents required under the Resource Management Act 1991.