The level of oil
and gas exploration scheduled off the Otago coast shows it is
a matter of when, not if, commercial quantities are found,
Dunedin City councillor Andrew Whiley says.
Mr Whiley, who is also a spokesman for Pro Gas Otago, made
the comments after attending a public information session on
oil and gas exploration, where it was revealed ''exploration
drilling'' was scheduled to happen eight times between now
and the end of 2018.
A timeline supplied to the Otago Daily Times showed
unconfirmed drilling was scheduled to happen twice next year.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals national petroleum
manager Kevin Rolens told the ODT the timeline was
based on ''programmes of work'' supplied by oil and gas
Mr Whiley, who was at last Thursday's meeting, admitted
surprise at the level of activity off the coast, but hailed
it as great news for the city's economy.
''I was delighted when I saw that, to be honest.''
The level of activity showed oil and gas companies were
''confident'' of finding something and indicated it was a
matter of when, and not if, commercial quantities would be
Cr Jinty MacTavish, who was also at the meeting, said it was
alarming that until last week
Dunedin people had not been told about the level of scheduled
activity off the Otago coast.
''The level of information that to date has come out of
Wellington around this stuff, in terms of community
consultation and community engagement, has been ...
The threat posed by global warming meant any exploration
activity was worrying, and the science on climate change
showed deep-sea drilling was a ''really dumb'' thing to be
There was a ''real tension'' for those who on one hand were
concerned about global warming, but on the other supported
exploration off the coast.
Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Danielle Trilford criticised last
week's meeting as a ''PR stunt''.
''At no point were Dunedinites asked if this is the direction
that we want to see our energy development to go,'' she said.
Mr Rolens said oil exploration involved a ''series of
''For example, exploration can begin with the reprocessing of
existing data, followed by new data gathering through seismic
surveying, and may result in the drilling of an exploration
well, which supplies a lot of important physical information
about a resource.''
At each of these stages permit-holders - who had exploration
rights to a defined area - could decide to withdraw from
''While the work programmes of permit-holders in the
Canterbury and Great South Basins have them scheduled to
undertake seismic surveying or exploratory drilling in the
coming years, some have yet to reach commit or surrender
points - so we cannot confirm absolutely if the activity will
Mr Rolens also confirmed Searcher Seismic Pty Ltd had applied
for a ''prospecting permit'' covering a large area off the
Otago coast in March.
''This is classed as a non-exclusive petroleum prospecting
permit application and, if granted, would allow the company
to gather data and then on-sell that data to interested