Oil Pollution Levy (OPL)
The OPL applies to all commercial vessels over 100 gross tons and more than 24 metres in length (except those operating in fresh water), offshore oil installations, exploration wells and oil pipelines.
An Oil Pollution Levies Order 2019 came into force on 1 July 2019 setting the latest levies (see Enabling regulation section below).
We recently consulted on the Oil Pollution Levies allocation method, and rates, over July - August 2023.
New Zealand has implemented a three-tiered approach to marine oil spill preparedness and response. A Tier 1 oil spill response is managed and funded by individual operators (the spiller). Tier 2 is managed by the regional councils and unitary authorities. Each council maintains trained oil spill response teams, equipment and a regional response plan.
If the spill is beyond the local response team’s ability to manage, or regional resources are insufficient, or where the costs are likely to be significant, a Tier 3 - or national level - response may be called. A Tier 3 spill is controlled by a National On-Scene Commander who has extensive statutory powers. New Zealand can also call on international resources if needed.
The Oil Pollution Advisory Committee (OPAC) is a statutory committee appointed by the Minister of Transport under Section 282 of the Maritime Transport Act (1994). The key functions of this committee are to advise the Maritime New Zealand Authority on:
- the New Zealand Oil Spill Response Strategy;
- the fixing and levying of oil pollution levies;
- the use of the Oil Pollution Fund; and
- any other matters as set out in the Maritime Transport Act.
The current members of the OPAC are:
|Name||Organisation / Group Representation|
|Captain Jim Dilley||Environment Canterbury|
|Captain Keith Brown||NZ Shipping Federation|
|Carlton Bidois||Independent Cultural Advisor|
|Fred McLay||Taranaki Regional Council|
|Kirstie Hewlett||Chair, Maritime NZ|
|Martin Burley||Coastal Oil Logistics Ltd|
|Nigel Clifford||Maritime NZ|
|Professor Chris Battershill||Independent Cultural Advisor|
|Richard Wells||NZ Seafood Industry Council|
|Steve Flanagan||Z Energy Ltd|
|Appointment pending||Ministry for the Environment|
|Appointment pending||OMV NZ|
|Appointment pending||Port Chief Executives Group|
|Nomination to be advised by DoC||Department of Conservation|
|Nomination to be advised by Shipping Federation||Shipping Federation|
|Nomination to be advised by TPK||Te Puni Kokiri|
Funding of preparedness and response services
The Maritime Transport Act requires Maritime New Zealand to establish and administer an Oil Pollution Fund (OPF). The fund is required to cover:
- the costs of the Oil Pollution Advisory Committee
- the purchase of equipment or anything else required to implement or assist in implementing a response to marine oil spills
- the reasonable costs Maritime New Zealand or a regional council incurs in investigating a suspected marine oil spill and in controlling, dispersing and cleaning up any marine oil spill
- the costs of services associated with planning and responding to marine oil spills that are services provided for under a contract
- the costs to Maritime New Zealand or a regional council of taking measures to avoid marine oil spills.
The basic premise of oil pollution preparedness and response is that the potential polluter pays. In circumstances when the polluter is not identified, the OPF is used to pay expenses from reserves set aside for that purpose.
View the current OPL rates that apply to New Zealand and Foreign vessels.