ENDING offshore oil and gas exploration could cost New Zealand taxpayers up to NZ$23.5 billion and increase emissions at the same time, according to new figures released by Government officials.

New Zealand’s oil and gas industry lobby body, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) says it is time for a re-think on plans to end new offshore exploration.

“The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIS) shows that ending new offshore permits is a disastrous policy for New Zealanders, likely to cost the Crown NZ$7.9 billion in lost revenue and potentially up to NZ$23.5 billion,” says PEPANZ CEO Cameron Madgwick.

“Importantly, this is only a part of the picture. Company profits could also reduce by billions which will cost jobs and investment into New Zealand, and the wider economic costs have not even been modelled.

“At the same time, it is considered more likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions than reduce them. It’s hard to think of a worse overall outcome.

“As well as the lost revenue it will mean higher energy prices for New Zealand homes and businesses, increasing the cost of living and destroying jobs.

“Over the last few months we’ve heard increasing concerns from New Zealanders over the impacts of this policy and we will be strongly advocating for those voices to be heard.”

The estimates were produced by the country’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has warned as the Government pushes forward with legislation to shut down offshore exploration after the new “green” Prime Minister announced in April she was banning all new offshore exploration for oil and gas.