Dangerous incidents in the oil and gas industry have increased in the last year and Green Party Energy spokesperson, Gareth Hughes says “the public has a right to know about it.”
Last month the government announced it was opening up 429,298 square kilometres, including three onshore areas and four offshore areas for oil and mineral exploration. The areas are based in and around Taranaki, Northland, the West Coast and Great South Canterbury.
Gareth Hughes says latest figures from WorkSafe NZ show that oil company Anadarko dropped a seven tonne platform into the ocean while drilling in the Canterbury Basin for deep sea oil last year.
Other incidents reported included fires, high pressure gas leaks and oil spills.
At the Petroleum Summit in March this year the Minister for Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges highlighted the benefits of oil exploration in New Zealand saying, “oil is our nation’s fourth largest export, produces significant incomes for many thousands of workers, not to mention the hundreds of millions that go to the Crown each year to pay for essential infrastructure and services New Zealanders expect and deserve. All of this comes from one petroleum basin, Taranaki, but we have 17 others that are underexplored – and I want to see that change."
However the Greens believe the environmental risks of oil exploration far outweigh the benefits and the figures from WorkSafe NZ are proof of that risk.
Gareth Hughes says, “while the government and Anadarko were trying to convince New Zealanders how safe deep sea oil drilling is when they were drilling some of our deepest ever exploratory wells, they were actually losing crucial pieces of equipment in the ocean. If these overseas oil companies can’t even keep track of crucial equipment while out there in rough conditions, how can we trust them to plug an oil spill over 1500 metres deep?”
He says, “We don't need to risk our shores and climate for the sake of a quick buck that will mostly benefit overseas oil companies. We can create a smart, green economy by moving away from risky extractive activities like deep sea oil drilling, and towards renewable energy and sustainable jobs.”