Via, 17/08/2011

The Green Party is warning exploration of potential deepwater drills sites in the Great South basin by Shell Oil could put New Zealand’s pristine shores at risk.

Oil giant Shell has bought a 50 per cent stake in the Great South Basin oil and gas exploration joint venture operated by OMV New Zealand.

The joint venture holds three exploration permits in the Great Southern Basin, a 130,000 square kilometre offshore area south east of Invercargill.

OMV has announced it will carry out comprehensive 3D seismic testing in the first three months of next year.

Greens resource management spokesman David Clendon said deepwater drilling was a very risky business.

“The Great South Basin is so remote, and posed such technical difficulty and risk, that Exxon Mobil and Todd Oil surrendered their permits last year.

“Shell Oil just spilled more than 200 tonnes of oil into the North Sea, while OMV had a spill off the Kapiti Coast last year. There is no guarantee of safety in offshore drilling.”

Neither the oil industry or the Government had the capacity to deal with a serious deepwater leak like the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year, he said.

“There have been no significant technological advances in the safety of deepwater drilling in the last year. New Zealand’s pristine shores are too economically valuable and precious to risk.”

The OMV and Shell exploration rig to survey the Great South Basin was going to arrive in New Zealand fully staffed so no jobs for locals would be created, Clendon said.

New Zealand’s future prosperity depended on investing in clean, green technology and sustainable jobs.

“We don’t need to risk our shores for the sake of a quick buck that will mostly benefit overseas oil companies.”

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