The chance of an oil spill in New Zealand waters is "very
low", and the Government is "confident" a natural disaster will
not occur as a result of deep sea oil and gas exploration,
Energy Minister Simon Bridges says.
He defended the opening up of eight new areas to exploratory
drilling last week, which put a further of 405,000 square
kilometres on offer for the controversial practice.
Speaking on TV One's Q+A programme this morning, the Energy
and Resources Minister said he was "confident" oil would not
spill on to New Zealand beaches.
Asked if he was 90 per cent or 100 per cent confident, he
said: "Well, I'm more than that."
"If you take the international best evidence that's 0.025
[per cent of risk], it's very low," he said.
"We can't say that there will never be an oil spill, but we
can have the very best practices and processes in place, and
I believe we do."
Companies that applied for a licence to drill must prove they
are safe, he said.
Mr Bridges also denied that New Zealand was being put up for
sale, and was starting to sound "desperate" for foreign oil
companies to take up the chance to drill in New Zealand
"No I don't accept that," he said.
"If you look at the permitting process, this is a two-way
street - in one way, yes, we need those companies to come
here, we want them to spend their money on that, but remember
when they do come, when they do put in their application,
they must be at best practice, we assess their financial
capability, their technical capability and their experience,
and if they're not good enough in New Zealand's interests
they don't make the cut."
His comments came after oil giant Anadarko reached a US$5.15
billion settlement agreement with the US government over
environmental contamination claims related to Tronox Inc, a
spinoff of Kerr-McGee Corp, a company Anadarko acquired in
Texan company, Anadarko, plugged and abandoned an exploratory
well off the coast of Taranaki, and decided not to drill a
second possible well after drilling in the little-explored
Canterbury Basin over the summer.
Last week Mr Bridges announced eight new areas would be
included for oil and gas exploration in the Government's 2014
Block Offer, including three onshore and five offshore sites.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ