Tukituki MP Craig Foss said yesterday that he had spoken with Energy Minister Simon Bridges to ensure the main Hawke's Bay aquifers were excluded from the 2014 Oil and Gas Block Offer.

"In recent months I have fronted this issue with Energy Minister Simon Bridges and told him that while the job and business opportunities of oil and gas are very welcome, that must be balanced with the Bay's environmental concerns about the impact exploration could have on the Ruataniwha and Heretaunga aquifers," Mr Foss said

"I believe the oil and gas industry could create some amazing opportunities for families in the Bay, but I'm not prepared to give it my blind support without taking a balanced approach."

The Block Offer is a competitive system for the allocation of permits for oil and gas exploration, and any development will be required to meet strict standards and be done in an environmentally responsible and safe way.


Mr Bridges announced yesterday that the government had opened eight new areas for oil and gas exploration in its 2014 Block Offer, unveiled at a petroleum conference in Wellington by Energy Minister Simon Bridges.

A total of 405,000 sq km of exploration acreage is on offer and includes formally opening the previously unidentified New Caledonia Basin for bids, where Shell New Zealand has already been awarded an exploration licence out of sequence with the Block Offer system.

"The three onshore and five offshore release areas on offer make up a tender that ranges from smaller appraisal blocks in well-explored areas containing previously drilled wells, through to large blocks with running room in frontier regions where little to no exploration has taken place," said Bridges.

The only completely new areas to be offered are onshore on the West Coast of the South Island, covering a total area of 6752.2sqkm, covering territory in the northern portion of the West Coast and stretching through to behind Nelson.

Further territory is being opened up onshore and offshore in the heavily explored and producing Taranaki Basin, and new acreage is being offered on the North Island's East Coast, where preliminary exploration has sparked protest, but where commercial shale oil and gas deposits are believed to exist.

Five offshore release areas in the Reinga-Northland, Taranaki, New Caledonia, Pegasus-East Coast, and Great South-Canterbury Basins are also being offered for bids which close on September 25, five days after the general election.