18 Feb 2015

Smith to table Maui gas platform legislation

11:24 am on 18 February 2015

The Government has tabled legislation in Parliament to ensure the Maui gas platform can continue to operate.

Under the current law an existing petroleum operator would not be allowed to continue mining while its marine consent application is being considered by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The purpose of the amendment bill tabled today is to allow existing operators to keep operating until their applications are decided and any objections or appeals have been dealt with.

The legislation will amend the 2012 law that covers the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf.

Environment Minister Nick Smith who has tabled the amendment, said Shell Todd Oil Services, which owns and operates Maui, applied for a marine consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environment Effects) Act but did not include enough time to account for any appeals.

"The government is proposing to introduce a quite straight forward amendment, that would simply enable that platform to continue to operate until such time as those appeals are finalised."

He said if there were any appeals, then potentially the platform would not be able to operate legally.

But the Green Party has warned the change could ease the path for more seabed mining.

Green MP Gareth Hughes said any changes must not weaken environmental protections to make things easier for the mining industry.

Dr Smith is not ruling out adding other changes to the legislation during the process and he said it was a complex area of new law.

He said some bumps needed to be ironed out, but insisted the amendment was not a radical shift in the legislation.

Maui supplies 47 percent of New Zealand's gas.

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