31 March, 2013
Moves to strengthen protection of offshore petroleum and minerals activity
The Government is proposing stronger measures to protect offshore petroleum and minerals activity from unlawful interference, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said today.
Cabinet has approved further changes to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill to firm up protection of lawful offshore petroleum and minerals activity and to give new enforcement powers to police and defence force personnel.
The provisions are in a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to be tabled in Parliament.
“There have been attempts to seriously disrupt lawful mining and related activities in recent times. These types of actions can impose significant costs on companies carrying out legitimate activities under permits, and present very serious health and safety risks,” says Mr Bridges.
“The changes address a gap in the current legislation. They provide an effective deterrent, and readily workable operational powers, to act against unlawful interference with legitimate exploration and production activities.”
Two new offences are proposed:
(1) intentional damage to and interference with mining structures and vessels, and interference with their activities being carried out under a Crown Minerals Act permit; carrying with it a penalty of imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine not exceeding $50,000, or in the case of a body corporate, a fine not exceeding $100,000;
(2) strict liability for contravention of a notified minimum non-interference distance (up to 500m); carrying with it a penalty of a fine of up to $10,000.
Additional measures are proposed for police or defence force personnel in command of a New Zealand Defence Force vessel to be deemed enforcement officers, with powers to board, arrest and detain.
Mr Bridges says the changes in the SOP add to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill proposals for the allocation and management of petroleum and minerals permits.
“Refreshing the Crown Minerals Act gives New Zealanders greater confidence in how the Government is allocating rights to Crown-owned minerals, and how it is managing and regulating those rights.
“This also means protecting the rights of the industry to operate safely and effectively,” Mr Bridges says.