Ex­plo­ration per­mits raise hack­les

Kaikoura Star - - NEWS - By EMMA DANGER­FIELD

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

cleanup ca­pac­ity?

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.

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