Exploration permits raise hackles
News that exploration permits have been awarded for the two offshore blocks closest to Kaikoura has been met with disappointment locally.
The Minister of Energy and Resources, Phil Heatley, announced in December the permits were two of 10 awarded nationwide, and said it was pleasing to see ongoing development of portfolios by established operators including big players such as Shell, OMV and Anadarko.
‘‘The award of two permits over the previously unexplored Pegasus Basin and another in the Great South Basin confirms the potential prospectivity of New Zealand outside Taranaki,’’ he said.
Collectively, the permits represent a committed work programme expenditure of $82 million, he said, which, if initial work was successful, could lead to the expenditure of a further $776 million within five years.
However, the environmental ramifications could be far more damaging to the country’s economy, if a disaster similar to the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred in New Zealand waters, and some feel the risk is just too great.
Ralph Hogan, one of the organisers of a petition calling for Government to withdraw the two blocks in the Pegasus Basin, said he was disappointed that a company like Anadarko, a 25 per cent partner in the Deepwater Horizon spill, was considered for the permits.
‘‘If the promise to only grant exploratory drilling blocks to reputable operators includes the likes of Anadarko, the Ministry of Energy has sold us all a bill of goods,’’ he said.
‘‘The ministry’s attempt to brush off Anadarko’s involvement in the Gulf Deepwater Horizon spill as merely having a 25 per cent working interest in the prospect just doesn’t wash. Anadarko was found liable by a US Federal Judge in February and required to pay damages along with BP. Why have Anadarko been invited into our waters at almost twice the depth as the Deepwater Horizon,
Why have Anadarko been invited into our waters at almost twice the depth as the Deepwater Horizon, to drill with even fewer resources to cap a blowout and a fraction the
to drill with even fewer resources to cap a blowout and a fraction of the clean-up capacity?’’
Mr Hogan said he was also concerned about assurances made by the ministry that all off- shore drills would be publicly notified.
The effort by Government to remove that condition from the regulations left very little faith that the country’s best interests would be considered, he said.
The five-year exploration permits have been awarded as: Anadarko: two permits in the Pegasus Basin; Shell, OMV and Mitsui: one permit in the Great South Basin; Taranaki: Todd Exploration and Cue Taranaki and New Zealand Oil & Gas: one offshore permit; Cheal Petroleum and East West Petroleum: three onshore permits; TAG Oil New Zealand Energy Corporation and New Zealand Oil & Gas: one onshore Taranaki permit.