Key defends oil drilling safety

20:59, Jan 28 2014

Prime Minister John Key has defended oil-exploration safety and environmental standards after Labour said they fell short of world's best practice.

Speaking after his state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland last week, Mr Key said the Government saw opportunities to expand the country's resource base "including deep water under the right protections and under the right measures".

A record $750 million would be spent this year by oil companies looking for oil and gas reserves, he said.

"What we are doing is working and it's working safely."

Labour leader David Cunliffe on Wednesday reiterated his party's pledge to change the law to ensure world best practice on environmental standards, insurance and cleanup measures.

Labour was not opposed to exploration in principle, he said.

However, if new consents did not meet the new standards they would not proceed, but there would be no "moratorium".

Existing contracts would not immediately be halted.

Mr Cunliffe said Labour's position on deep-sea drilling had not changed since comments he made in November. However the stance puts his party at odds with the Greens, who remain opposed to deep-sea drilling.

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