More than 5000km² of Hawke's Bay's offshore marine area is on the table for gas and oil exploration - as Hawke's Bay Regional Council moves to prohibit the activity on land.
Last week Minister of Energy and Resources Judith Collins announced a total of 481,735km² around the country would be open for bids for gas and oil exploration activities under the Government's Block Offer 2017.
Through the annual block offer, the Government seeks to attract companies for oil and gas exploration in designated blocks around the country.
One of the 2017 offers' "highlights" was 5569km² of area to be released in Hawke Bay.
This comes as the regional council has reiterated it will remain resolute in its intention to prohibit oil and gas exploration activities through a proposed plan change.
This standalone plan change would prohibit of oil and gas exploration activities within productive aquifers, aquifer recharge zones and surface water bodies.
Yesterday council chairman Rex Graham said although he did not want "a whole lot of oil rigs off our coast", as the area to be released was offshore it would not be affected by the proposed plan change.
However, he said he would be "very keen" to look at the possibility of the prohibition extending to cover activities in the marine area - last month a council regional planning committee also expressed interest in this possibility.
During the offers' consultation period, the council had requested a proposed block which included acreage inside their jurisdiction - which covers the 12 nautical mile limit off Hawke Bay - be excluded.
In response, the minister decided to exclude blocks within three nautical miles in Hawke's Bay up to the southern point of Gisborne, in the Pegasus-East Coast 2 release area.
However, regional councillor Paul Bailey said he felt this showed the council's request had not been listened to.
"The feedback I've been getting is that there's extreme frustration [about the] block offer and that it comes in close to shore," he said.
It was frustrating going through the consultation process, he said, only for the released area to encroach on the regional council's area of responsibility.
At the offers launch, Ms Collins said areas outside three nautical miles from shore were included to allow more shallow-water acreage and more of the known gas prospects in the area to be investigated.
"The current market conditions favour relatively lower-cost opportunities such as shallow-water exploration," she said.
Companies are now open to bid for exploration permits to undertake exploration activities in areas released in the block offer.
Bids are due to close on September 6. NZP&M stated they expected to grant permits in December.