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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.