The Auckland Council has approved the issuing of oil exploration permits off the city's west coast in a submission to the Government.

However, it wants the boundaries set 12 nautical miles offshore to protect the endangered Maui's dolphin and the risk from any oil spill.

The Government is looking to allocate petroleum exploration permits in three basins offshore from Auckland at the end of next year.

The basins are the Reinga Northland Basin (85,009sq km), New Caledonia Basin (49,051sq km) and Taranaki (55,032sq km).


The permits allow for exploration at least six nautical miles offshore.

Under the Resource Management Act, the council regulates and assesses the environmental effects of any mining activity.

In a report considered by councillors yesterday, officers said there was a significant potential for economic benefits for Auckland if oil or gas production wells were developed off the city's coast.

"Oil and gas exploration has environmental risks that are of low likelihood but high consequence. In Auckland this relates principally to Maui's dolphins and to drilling well blowouts."

Endangered Maui's dolphins are found off Auckland's west coast adjacent to the block areas. Officers said extending the oil exploration boundaries to 12 nautical miles would protect their environment.

Read more on the submission approved by the council here.