The Green Party wants the oil drilling programme in New Zealand’s Great South Basin to be stopped, until the cause of the US oil catastrophe is identified.
Party co-leader Russel Norman says the basin off the South Island’s south-east coast, is home to sensitive marine mammals and ecosystems that would be damaged by a similar type of oil catastrophe.
BP’s disastrous American oil leak began six weeks ago and President Barack Obama has stated that containment could take another three months. Dr Norman wants the New Zealand project put on hold, until experts can explain how the US disaster can be prevented from happening again. He says the oil industry needs to demonstrate that it can plug oil wells in deep water.
The Great South Basin is one of New Zealand’s largest undeveloped offshore basins. Situated to the east and south of Southland the Great South Basin was explored between 1976 and 1984 with eight wells drilled. Hydrocarbons were present in half of these. The strong geological similarities with the producing basins of Taranaki and South Australia, combined with the presence of hydrocarbons in four of the eight wells, make the Great South Basin one of New Zealand’s largest prospects for both oil and gas.
In July, 2007 the New Zealand Government awarded oil and gas exploration permits for four areas of the Great South Basin, situated in the volatile waters off the Southern Coast of New Zealand. The three successful permit holders are:
* a consortium led by ExxonMobil New Zealand (Exploration) Limited (USA) which includes local company Todd Exploration Limited (New Zealand)
* a consortium led by OMV New Zealand Limited (Austria) which includes PTTEP Offshore Investment Company Ltd (Thailand), Mitsui Exploration and Production Australia Pty Ltd (Japan)
* Greymouth Petroleum Limited (New Zealand).
The Great South Basin lies offshore from the coast of Southland and South Otago, and at over 500,000 sq km is one of New Zealand’s largest petroleum basins (covering an area 1.5 times New Zealand’s land mass). The current area of awarded permits covers 18% of the basin.
Recent data indicates that the Great South Basin may have the greatest petroleum volume potential of all New Zealand’s basins. In particular it has the thick sediments required to produce hydrocarbons, favourable reservoir and source rocks, and is not affected by large scale seismic faulting found in most New Zealand basins.
Source: nzcity, May 31, 2010;