Monday, July 31, 2023

Will Labour allow more offshore drilling?

Offshore gas exploration permit 38602, held by Todd Energy, was due to expire today, and I was looking forward to announcing its demise. First granted in 1993 to Todd Energy, it was apparently the site of a gas discovery in 2004. But rather than exploit it, Todd sat on it for twenty years, repeartedly extending the permit for "appraisal" to ensure they could claim the value of this "asset" on their books. The most recent extension was in 2019, and was one of the first signs of the emptiness of labour's offshore gas ban. But when I checked today, it looks like Todd have applied to convert it into a mining permit.

This is perfectly legal, thanks to Labour's chickenshittery. While they banned issuing new offshore petroleum permits, a sneaky little transition clause buried in a schedule ensures that reapplications must be determined "as if the Amendment Act had not been enacted". Because we wouldn't want that "ban" to actually mean anything, would we? But the new Crown Minerals Amendment Bill (currently waiting for its committee stage) seems to fix this, with a new transition clause saying that existing applications will be determined in accordance with the amended Act (which of course includes the offshore ban). The question now is whether Labour will actually pass this before the election, or whether by cowardice and chickenshittery they'll effectively enable a continuation of offshore drilling, in violation of their own "ban". And if they do, will voters tolerate that gutlessness at the ballot box?

[For the curious, I'm tracking petroleum permits here. The next expiry after this isn't until December next year, though if we're lucky we'll see some surrenders as a result of "drill or drop" clauses]