Key defends oil standards

Last updated 18:33 23/01/2014

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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 today, 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.

Cunliffe said Labour's position on deep-sea drilling had not changed since comments he made in November.

Cunliffe said he had looked at Norway's law and its standards and at the way it used the income from royalties in a sovereign wealth fund. It was an interesting idea, but no decisions had been made.

He and MPs from other parties met representatives of Norway's Statoil in December.

"We have long recognised Norway as a good example of environmental regulatory practice, but no specific matters were discussed in detail and certainly no changes to party policy or any policy position took place as a result of my meeting with Statoil," he said.

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- Fairfax Media

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