The oil industry says it is frustrated the Government is stalling on environmental protections for offshore drilling.
Brazilian company Petrobras has begun surveying the seabed off East Cape ahead of an exploratory oil or gas well.
The lack of any environmental safeguard beyond 22 kilometres from the coast leads campaigners to fear an oil spill like the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year.
The executive officer of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association, John Pfahlert, says his industry agrees with the need for regulations so the lack of action is frustrating and hard to understand.
The Government vowed to fast-track legislation to plug the hole in the law nine months ago.
Environment Minister Nick Smith says the foreshore and seabed debate has held up the changes, but it is his ambition to make progress this year.