News that Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has abandoned its
search for oil and gas in the Raukumura Basin has been
greeted with jubilation by anti-exploration crusaders and
disappointment by the business sector.
The company yesterday handed back its five-year permit to
explore and drill the offshore East Coast block.
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon told Radio NZ this morning that
drilling in the ocean presented a major environmental concern
to the region and he was relieved the company had pulled out.
His response was echoed by East Coast environmentalists.
"This is the best news," said Hick's Bay's Ani
Pahuru-Huriwai, founding member and spokeswoman of the
anti-exploration Ahi Ka Action Group.
"While Petrobras says that the protest action was not a
factor, we would say it was due to pressure from our Te
Whanau a Apanui tuakana, Greenpeace and the public of
Aotearoa who have got behind to support this."
Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said the
withdrawal left the Government's ambitions for deep sea
drilling "in tatters".
"Petroleum development, including deep-sea drilling, is the
wrong focus for our economy," he said.
"Petrobras' risky plans attracted massive public opposition.
The Government simply does not have a public mandate to
continue to expand this dangerous industry."
But Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Gavin Murphy saw
Petrobras' withdrawal as "a blow for economic development
opportunities for the Bay of Plenty, East Coast and
"While there was a lot of water to go under the bridge before
development occurred - and the size of the prize and issues
needing to be resolved were still all in front of the company
- it is a real setback to the opportunity to develop these
resources," Mr Murphy said.
- By Kristine Walsh of the Gisborne Herald