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Offshore petroleum industry commits to environment

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for the Environment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South


19 April 2006 Media Statement
Offshore petroleum industry commits to good environmental practice


Companies exploring for oil and gas within New Zealand's EEZ have agreed to work according to best practice environmental guidelines, Environment Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

The Ministry for the Environment and Maritime New Zealand, together with the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ), have completed best practice environmental guidelines for offshore petroleum activities in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This is the area from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore.

“We want to protect the marine environment but allow for responsible exploration of New Zealand’s petroleum resources at the same time," said David Benson-Pope. "These voluntary guidelines are a first step to protecting this remote territory.”

At the moment, companies do not have to assess and manage environmental effects before they undertake development activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone as comprehensively as under the Resource Management Act. The Government is currently working on an Oceans Policy that will address this. Until then, the voluntary guidelines provide offshore petroleum companies with environmental best practice.

Mike Patrick, Executive Officer of PEPANZ, said the industry is supportive of the guidelines: "Our members always want to minimise the environmental impacts of their work. PEPANZ has played a major role in formulating these guidelines and we are very supportive of their use.

"We are keen to play a further role in the Oceans Policy that Government is now working on. We are also eagerly awaiting the introduction of the Marine Protection Rule 200 that will set standards for the discharge of pollutants from petroleum production installations," said Dr Patrick.

Environmental Best Practice Guidelines for the Offshore Petroleum Industry are available on www.mfe.govt.nz, www.maritimenz.govt.nz and www.pepanz.org.

ENDS


Fact Sheet: The Environmental Best Practice Guidelines for the Offshore Petroleum Industry

The Environmental Best Practice Guidelines for the Offshore Petroleum Industry
- are a result of joint industry and government efforts
- provide clarity on what activities are currently regulated and what activities are voluntary
- provide a list of environmental principles for the industry to be guided by when undertaking exploration, development and production activities
- provide a list of parties who should be consulted prior to undertaking activities
- advise on what should be covered or taken into account in environmental assessments, environmental management plans, monitoring and reporting and employee/contractor training.

The Exclusive Economic Zone
The area offshore of New Zealand from 12 to 200 nautical miles is called our Exclusive Economic Zone. This area is about 15 times the size of our land mass. It not only provides a habitat for sea creatures, it also holds significant economic opportunities, such as fishing, petroleum mining and shipping.

Oil field developments within the 12-mile limit are controlled under the environmental management provisions of the Resource Management Act.

Marine Protection Rule 200
The Marine Protection Rule 200 will introduce a discharge management plan (a form of environmental management plan), which must be approved for all offshore installations. It is designed to promote the application of ‘best practicable option’ to prevent or minimise adverse effects on the environment due to the discharge of pollutants.

Oceans Policy

For more information on the Oceans Policy, visit www.oceans.govt.nz.

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