New Zealand: Statoil abandons offshore exploration project

Norwegian oil firm Statoil is stopping its efforts to find oil and gas in the Reinga Basin, offshore New Zealand.

The company was awarded two exploration permits (PEP55781 and PEP57057) for the Reinga Basin in 2013 and 2014. The permits are located around 85 kilometers off the West Coast of Northland.

Statoil New Zealand Country Manager Brynjulv Kløve said: “After studying 2D seismic data of the search area for the past three years, we think the chance of making a large oil or gas discovery is small, so we have decided to conclude our exploration work in Northland and return those exploration permits to the Crown.”

“Some may speculate we are surrendering the permits for various reasons, but the only reason is that we see the probability too low to justify continuing our search.”

Statoil said there was very little information available on the permitted area until the company began collecting data, which would now be available to others.

Kløve said: “Our focus will now shift to our four exploration permits off the South East Coast of the North Island, and to exploration projects elsewhere in the world.”

Greenpeace

Following Statoil’s decision, Greenpeace New Zealand is now calling for a “summer of action” aiming to “drive Statoil and other oil companies out of the country for good.”

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the announcement is a win for people power and for the Northland community.

“Statoil says local opposition didn’t contribute to the decision to ditch West Coast plans, but that’s hard to believe,” she says.

“We know that Statoil were surprised and embarrassed by the huge public scrutiny they faced in Northland, especially after our Government had promised them it would be a walk in the park.

“But now the Government has been left with egg on its face, and we’re going to make sure that when Statoil finally gives up and leaves New Zealand for good, it will be thanks to local opposition.

She said that the oil industry should expect community resistance “at every turn,” and that “this will all culminate at the next oil conference in Taranaki in March”.

“If our Government won’t do the right thing, we have to take matters into our own hands. It’s time for New Zealanders to join together to make sure that this summer spells the end of the oil search in our homeland.”

Greenpeace’s Simcock says Greenpeace will be escalating the fight against oil through until the annual oil conference in March, to be held in Taranaki.

“An entire summer of community civil disobedience is going to lead up to this conference and we’re calling for everyone to join us. This is the beginning of the end for the oil industry,” Simcock said.

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