Shell New Zealand exploration venture manager Roland Spuij (standing at left) and corporate communications manager Shona Geary wrap up a community engagement meeting in Invercargill.
The man heading Shell New Zealand's Great South Basin gas
exploration project has described a community engagement
meeting in Invercargill on Tuesday as ''positive from all
Representatives of environmental, marine industry, business,
tourism, iwi and economic development groups appreciated the
opportunity to hear the company's plans first-hand and
comment on them, exploration venture manager Roland Spuij
About 25 people attended the meeting, the first of six being
held in Invercargill and Dunedin in the next few months.
Shell has an exploration permit for about 16,700sq km of the
Great South Basin, off the east coast of New Zealand from
about Dunedin to just south of Stewart Island.
It is about 70% of the way through assessing its $80 million
worth of data on Great South Basin gas prospects and will
probably announce by the middle of next year if it will fund
a southern deep-water drilling programme. The earliest it
would consider drilling would be the summer of 2014-15.
The company yesterday talked about its exploration plans
before participants broke into three groups to discuss issues
and report back.
Mr Spuij said the business-focused group was particularly
interested in how it could prepare workers, contractors and
infrastructure, should Shell decide to go ahead with
The company had yet to decide whether it would use a floating
drill rig or a drill ship, or whether its operations would be
based in Invercargill or Dunedin, should it decide to
proceed, he said.
The environmental groups raised issues including the
biosecurity risks of bringing a drill ship or rig into New
Zealand waters, as well as noise and light effects from
drilling and the need to protect marine life during drilling,
The community engagement meetings are part of an environment,
social and health impact assessment Shell has to prepare to
meet the requirements of the Government's Exclusive Economic
Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012,
which came into effect in September.
The company is also completing a separate cultural assessment
of southern drilling in consultation with local runanga.
Shell was employing 11 geologists and geophysicists on the
collection and analysis of Great South Basin data, Mr Spuij
said. Their work was expected to be completed by end of