Block Offer 2019
The government 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 2019, 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.
In response to issues raised in submissions during consultation for Block Offer 2018 an additional engagement condition in the 2018 Invitation for Bids document was included.
This condition strengthened and clarified NZP&M's expectation that permit holders will engage with iwi as envisaged by section 33C of the Crown Minerals Act, and do so on an ongoing basis through the life of a permit.
This built on previous conditions to provide active protection for significant sites, and allows for a consistent approach across all iwi and hapū, not just those who made submissions.
The new condition explicitly requires permit holders to engage with iwi on an ongoing basis, with specific early engagement requirements in relation to activities to be undertaken within 200 metres of areas of significance to iwi.
Consultation commenced on 25 September 2019 and the due date for submissions is 20 November 2019.
Local authorities will also be notified of the proposed blocks.
The final area for tender is expected to be announced by the in the first half of 2020.
The block offer is a tender used to allocate petroleum exploration permits. Following consultation, the Minister of Energy and Resources 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 2019 area that contains the blocks that are being consulting on has been selected based on its prospectivity, available data, anticipated commercial interest, and alignment with the 2018 amendments to the CMA.
Proposed Block Offer 2019 consultation blocks
The proposed consultation blocks for Block Offer 2019 is limited to the onshore Taranaki region, and covers 2568 km2. Only the areas in orange above are being consulted on.
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 2018 amendments to the CMA prohibit access to Taranaki conservation land, as part of the Block Offer process, except for minimum impact activities.
The blocks open for consultation for Block Offer 2019 do 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.