Eyes on southern plans

All eyes will be turning to deep-water oil exploration plans in the frontier Great South Basin and Canterbury Basin after Brazilian oil giant Petrobras yesterday shelved plans for up to $300 million worth of North Island exploration. There was a high-profile campaign by East Cape iwi Te Whanau a Apanui, Greenpeace and other groups last year against Petrobras' exploration of the Raukumara Basin.

While it ran a shipborne seismic survey of the area it was dogged by protest vessels, and saw off an unsuccessful High Court challenge to its exploration.

Petrobras' departure will dent the Government's plans to promote oil and gas exploration, with almost 30 exploration wells having been expected during the next five years, but Greenpeace said the Petrobras decision was a ''victory for Kiwis opposed to risky deep-sea drilling'', BusinessDay reported yesterday.

Oil giants Shell and Anadarko have separate interests in respectively drilling the Great South Basin and Canterbury Basin, the latter off the coast from Oamaru, some time during the next 12 to 24 months.

While neither shipborne seismic surveys or the appearance of a drill rig off Oamaru in 2006 attracted much environmental attention, both prospective areas lie at a depth of 1000m or more, in areas prone to wild weather.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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