'Expect resistance', oil company told

Oil Free Otago protesters at Fryatt St in Dunedin in 2015 during the visit of the hydrographic...
Oil Free Otago protesters at Fryatt St in Dunedin in 2015 during the visit of the hydrographic survey ship Polarcus Alima. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
An Otago environmental group is telling Austrian oil giant OMV to "expect resistance", should a deep-water oil rig appear off Otago's coast.

OMV said yesterday if commercially viable amounts of oil and gas were found in any of 10 prospects offshore from Dunedin, it could drill three exploration wells and seven appraisal wells.

Such an operation would take place over the next 11 years, under its existing, pre-coalition Government permit.

The Dunedin City Council, which supports a ban on issuing new exploration permits, will be briefed by OMV at the end of the month.

Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden was aware OMV had applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to "discharge contaminants to sea", a requirement before it could drill any prospects in the Great South Basin.

She had spoken "at length" with the EPA last week and understood the application covered a "tiny spill" of around 250ml and Oil Free Otago would not be opposing the application.

"It doesn't include toxins of all the chemicals used when drilling, just a tiny portion," she said.

She said while OMV's application was being made public today, the application was non-notifiable to the public.

"We're really frustrated by the process under the EEZ Act.

"The public has been shut out from any legal way of protesting this," she said.

She was asked what action Oil Free Otago might take should an oil rig appear in Otago's offshore waters.

"They should expect resistance," Ms Penwarden said.

"Climate change is now in a crisis situation ...we won't sit by and let them continue their destructive business off our coast," she said.

She cited Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull saying earlier in the week at a public forum on climate change he was proud of his council's stance against oil exploration.

Mr Cull said the council did commit to supporting the moratorium on no new oil and gas exploration permits, but could "informally welcome" OMV's latest interests in Otago.

However, when pressed about lobbying OMV to base itself in Dunedin, "council wouldn't lobby them".

"If there was to be a base and investment then council would have to vote," he said.

He noted council had no role to play in non-notified marine consent applications.

Dunedin city councillors were notified yesterday OMV would be speaking with them on April 29.

Cr Andrew Whiley has been pro-oil and gas exploration for many years.

"Every piece of evidence I've seen is that it is gas, not oil but the imagery of the anti-brigade brings up is oil on our beaches," he said.

He called for all parties to consider the benefits of a gas find, which could bring opportunities for Dunedin, its engineering sector and other service sectors.

"All indications are there is a sizeable gas field in the Great South Basin," Mr Wiley said of estimates by New Zealand Oil & Gas, which also holds offshore Oamaru permits, and Houston oil company Anadarko, which quit drilling the same area in 2014.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

Comments

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There are considerably more benefits to using natural gas, with our current mix of energy technologies, than against.
No doubt the alarmist and puritans will wave their banners but the fact remains that the world will see another 2 billion people added to the world population before it starts to decline and I would rather see NZ contribute pragmatically to global prospertity than claim some sort of moral highground based on anxiety, fear and elitism.

Watch them all turn up in there gas guzzling boat and cars or there diesel sucking ute blowing that nice black smoke lol greenies.

Bushy, you don't know this group, to play the hypocrisy card.

No doubt this ill-informed group will get some support from our equally uninformed mayor - until he is removed from office. Hopefully if they do protest they will be prosecuted and the gas exploration will be able to go ahead to the benefit of all.

Will the ODT be running an article on those who would prefer to adopt a reasoned approach to possible further exploitation of our dwindling resources, or do they only intend reporting on unsubstantiated emotive positions as perpetually provided by our hopefully outgoing mayor?

I can understand why these people protest. But I wonder if any of them are wiling to immediately stop using any petroleum products whatsoever in their daily lives. I wonder if any of them would be able to function in their daily lives if they tried. A more reasonable 'protest' would be first to lobby for increased public spending on alternative fuel research and applications (but first familiarize yourselves with what is being done - and that's a lot) and second to investigate ways of taking carbon out of the atmosphere and there's some of those too. In fact, soil carbon sequestration is so powerful a remedy that we could keep on burning fossils fuels until they become so expensive that alternatives will be chosen by the market and no protesting needed - and still have a net atmospheric carbon reduction and in time. In other words, before protesting that someone must do something about something (although that is generally true about most things) read the literature! And any 'oil-free' advocates who are knocking Dunedin City Councillor Andrew Whiley over this single issue, IMO are doing a serious disservice to a very responsible, hard-working city councillor.

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