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O&G Legislation - overview

This section provides a synopsis of key legislation for O&G activity and how it is administered in New Zealand as it relates to:

  • Acquiring permits to prospect, explore and mine petroleum in NZ

  • Environmental legislation

  • Health & safety

  • Pertinent legislation, policies and documents such as offshore property protection, oil spill response strategy etc.

There are several Government agencies involved in administering legislative functions that relate to O&G activities. These responsibilities may also differ according to whether the O&G activity is onshore or off-shore and also how far offshore (e.g. beyond 12 nm’s).

Below is an overview of the key activities, legislation and which Government agency does what in NZ.

Click here for an overview of how the O&G Industry is managed by the Government and its various agencies.

Click here for Who does what in New Zealand's Offshore waters

Click here for who does what in NZ's Onshore waters


Legislative framework

The Crown Minerals Act 1991 is the cornerstone legislation  that defines the process for those considering obtaining permits for prospecting, exploration and mining on Crown land within New Zealand and it is administered by the Minister of Energy and Resources.

The Act also defines that petroleum in its natural state in New Zealand belongs to the Crown (s 10).

‘New Zealand’ includes not only its (onshore, dry) land area but also its territorial area that extends to 12 nautical miles (nm) from the shore.  Under international law, New Zealand also has exclusive rights, beyond its territorial sea  to the petroleum resource domiciled in the sea bed, that extends between 12 nm to 200 nm (known as the Exclusive Economic Zone – ‘EEZ’) and even further, to the extended continental shelf (ECS). 

Within this extended zone beyond New Zealand’s territorial sea, the Crown does not own the petroleum but can allocate rights in relation to its exploration and mining, and can receive a royalty from any production that may result.

For a map of New Zealand, including boundaries pertinant to the O&G industry, click here

Click here for further details about the Crown Minerals Act 1991 and important supporting documents

The Minerals Programme for Petroleum has the policies, procedures and provisions to be applied in relation to the allocation and management of petroleum permits granted under the Crown Minerals Act. 

The Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Regulations 2007 specifies the information that permit/licence holders must supply and includes the forms for applying for, transferring and surrendering permits.

The Crown Minerals Petroleum fees regulations 2006 outlines fees payable for matters specified under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 for petroleum. For more info on New Zealand’s royalty regime click here: [link to royalty tab on web site].


Environmental: Onshore & Offshore O&G activities (up to 12 nm from land)

Environmental matters onshore and offshore up to 12 miles (NZ’s territorial sea) are predominantly addressed through the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and administered by Regional and Local Councils. Local Councils (District or City Councils) focus on the environmental effects of land use activities whilst Regional Council’s address air, water, the coast, pollution and discharges.

Environmental: Off shore - Beyond 12 nm

Activities more than 12 nautical miles from the coastline are predominantly managed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.

There are also requirements under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 which relate to plans and responses in relation to protecting the marine environment from oil spills and other matters.

Oil Spills

The Marine Pollution Response Service is an operational unit within Maritime NZ with capability dedicated for dealing with marine oil spills. The unit also administers the NZ marine oil pollution Response Strategy.

In event of an oil spill, there is a tiered response partnership arrangement that exists between Maritime New Zealand, Regional Councils and the oil industry (and overseas agencies). Each tier can be escalated to the next depending on size/scale of the event.

Tier 1: Industry (ships and off shore oil transfer sites)

Tier 2: Regional Councils

Tier 3: Maritime New Zealand

Those responsible for each tier are required to prepare contingency plans and a response capability appropriate to their level of responsibility.


Permit administration

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  (MBIE) administers the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (the "Act'). MBIE carries out a wide range of functions associated with economic development, energy and policy.

Within MBIE, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZP&M) receives, assesses and grants licences for prospecting, exploration and mining in accordance with the Act. They do not, however, does not manage or regulate the environmental effects of O&G activities, or grant land access.

For more info on permitting process

For more about the Block Offer process

For more info on land access

For more information about working with communities, Iwi and Hapu