No new offshore oil and gas exploration

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The government will not offer any more offshore oil exploration permits, in a move environmentalists describe as historic and opponents say is "economic vandalism" that threaten thousands of jobs. Her government also plans to plant 100 million trees each year and ensure the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy. "We're striking the right balance for New Zealand - we're protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change".

The government said that "no current jobs" would be lost, as it was "honoring all agreements with current permit holders".

New Zealand appears to be one of the first countries in the world to move significantly towards a permanent ban on oil exploration.

The meeting will take place next Thursday (April 19) during Ms Ardern's trip to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Mr Madgwick, and New Zealand Oil & Gas chief executive Andrew Jefferies both emphasised the decision sent a worrying message to domestic and global investors, about New Zealand as a place to invest and create jobs.

Mr Jeffries says the company is focusing on assets where its New Zealand capability can add value, with a preference for gas assets because gas is seen in most jurisdictions as a vital energy source for the transition to a lower carbon world.

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A page on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website - a government agency that promotes global trade and economic development - says the government's aim is "to increase the value of New Zealand petroleum exports tenfold" by 2025.

Ardern said permits can last for years, and "that's why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future".

National's Energy and Resources spokesman Jonathan Young said the permit decision was devoid of rationale.

"Huge investments have been made by companies already anticipating offshore block offers which have now gone to waste, and people's jobs will likely be affected", said Cameron Madgwick, chief executive of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand. "We are disappointed that onshore Taranaki, where communities have to deal with ongoing fracking and exploration, is exempt from the ban, and that existing offshore exploration contracts will remain", he said.

Industry group Petroleum Exploration and Production NZ (PEPANZ) said it had been blindsided by the announcement and had not been consulted by the government.

The company, whose shares fell 3.2 percent, said the move would not have any immediate material impact on its financial position and it would continue with its existing projects.