The Green Party says the revelation an Austrian oil giant plans to drill off the Otago coast is "bad news" for the planet and shows last year's ban on new exploration needs to be strengthened.

It was revealed in the Otago Daily Times this morning Austrian oil giant OMV has unveiled one of the most ambitious gas and oil drilling programmes proposed in New Zealand.

It plans possibly three exploration and seven follow-up appraisal wells off Otago's coast in the Great South Basin.

OMV has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for a marine discharge consent to release contaminants to sea, the application being made public today.

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OMV said in its application the GSB exploration and appraisal drilling programme
potentially included the drilling of a number of wells located within its permit PEP 50119.

"Depending on the outcomes of the exploration drilling, this could include up to three
exploration wells and up to seven appraisal wells,'' the company said.

Green Party Energy and Resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes slammed the move and said it was time to "put a line in the sand on offshore oil and gas drilling".

"Only the Green Party is committed to stop deep sea oil drilling. This isn't the future we want for New Zealand or the world.

"The consent application announced today for oil drilling shows that last year's ban on new permits needs to be strengthened.

"We've already discovered enough fossil fuels to burn the planet, and we don't need to look for more off our coasts.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes has slammed plans for more oil drilling off the coast of New Zealand. Photo/Getty Images.
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes has slammed plans for more oil drilling off the coast of New Zealand. Photo/Getty Images.

He said there were 28 active mining or prospecting permits which could be used until the oil runs out if Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods agrees to extend them.

"I'm urging Minister Woods to call MBIE in and take action to stop the extension of existing permits.

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"This Government has banned new offshore drilling permit applications, and now we need to close this loophole to stop further applications for deep sea oil drilling long into the future.

He expected any consent process for drilling to be "staunchly" opposed by the public.

"I will be looking very closely at this application and will be talking to local communities about their concerns."

- Otago Daily Times