Oil exploration is continuing in Aotearoa. At the moment the Austrian company OMV has announced plans to drill for oil in the Great Southern Basin, which is off the coast of Canterbury and Dunedin. The local group Oil Free Otago is mobilising opposition to OMV’s plans.
Exploration is also still happening in Taranaki. They have recently faced expansions of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) onland and oil and gas drilling at sea. Climate Justice Taranaki and Clean Energy Taranaki have been organising opposition to this for some time.
But hasn’t there been an exploration ban?
In 2018 we were thrilled to hear the Government announce a ban on all new oil and gas offshore exploration. This passed through parliament last year. However, over a hundred thousand square kilometres has already been opened for exploration offshore. The government is also allowing the companies to extend their permits so that the possibility of more oil exploration and drilling is still very real.
In Taranaki new permits are still being granted for offshore exploration and remember that the new ban only covers offshore exploration so there are still permits being offered around the country onshore.
Most recently the Government has opened huge onshore areas in Taranaki for possible oil and gas exploration. This is part of a bidding process and it has yet to be awarded to a particular company.
The story in te Whanganui-a-Tara
On December 11th, 2012 Texan oil giant Anadarko was granted exclusive right to explore for petroleum in the Pegasus Basin, which lies southeast of Wellington’s coast. The permits cover 4272 square kilometres and last for 5 years.
Anadarko began seismic surveying during the summer of 2013-14. This was met by marches, protests outside their offices, Oil Free Wellington members in the water next to their seismic blasting vessel and the in person delivery of hundreds of statements of opposition to the Captain of the ship. Since then Anadarko has surrendered its permits.
However, new permits have been granted to the Norwegian owned Statoil and the American multinational Chevron. In November 2016 Statoil and Chevron began seismic blasting in the area.
Oil Free Wellington is a group of Wellingtonians who have come together to organise to prevent both exploration and full scale drilling from occurring.
We are concerned that our government would risk our coast and livelihoods for an activity which has relatively little economic benefits. We are concerned with the lack of notification and consultation. We are are also deeply concerned at the global implications this will have on intensifying climate change. At such a critical point in history we need to be investing in positive alternatives, not furthering our reliance on dirty energy.
Over this coming year we’ll be making sure that deep sea oil drilling becomes a public issue in Wellington, and building powerful opposition in our communities, before the first rigs can drill off our coast.
We hope that you’ll join with us over the coming months in successfully farewelling Statoil and Chevron from our shores!