You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
A consent has been granted to an international oil and gas company related to plans to drill in the Great South Basin.
The Environmental Protection Authority held hearings in Dunedin starting in July this year related to Austria-based OMV's intention to drill an oil and gas exploration well costing about $80million in the basin this summer.
The hearing was limited to the effects of a small potential discharge of harmful substances from the drill rig's deck drains.
The panel has granted the consent with conditions.
It considered effects on species and the marine environment and its
decision noted its understanding the effects on climate change of discharging greenhouse gases into the air was "explicitly ruled out as a matter that we can have regard to" through the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act.
Submitters became frustrated at the hearing that they were restricted to the consent at hand and unable to express views on the wider project.
OMV Australasia senior vice-president Gabriel Selischi said it welcomed the granting of the consent.
"It shows the company had met the stringent criteria required."
Further regulator approvals were still required before it could start exploration and appraisal drilling.
Oil Free Otago spokesman Adam Currie said the granting of the consent was expected.
Environmental groups were considering appealing it on technical grounds, he said.