Shell’s spill continues as NZ deep water aspirations revealed

Press release - August 17, 2011
Auckland 17/8/11: As Shell Oil was announcing its involvement in plans to drill in the deep water of the Great South Basin, off the bottom of the South Island, the 1300-barrel spill from a rig operated by Shell in the North Sea was being labelled as ‘substantial’ by the UK Government.

Shell kept the leaks secret for two days after they began, and is refusing to say how much oil is still escaping.

“The Shell rig that is leaking in the North Sea is in only about 95 metres of water, and yet they still can’t quickly stop a leak,” says Greenpeace NZ Climate Campaigner Steve Abel.

“Steven Joyce, speaking in Parliament earlier this year, put the depths in the Great South Basin at 1700 metres deep. There would be no hope of quickly fixing a problem at those depths.

“Exxon Mobil, a company infamous for its poor environmental record, gave up its right to explore in the Great South Basin on the basis that the risks were too high. And yet Shell, along with its partners, are happy to expose the Southern Coast and Stewart Island to a Gulf of Mexico-style oil disaster.

BP’s exploratory rig, the Deepwater Horizon, was operating in 1500 metres of water when it exploded and sank last year, spilling millions of barrels of oil.

Shell’s name is closely linked to a series of disastrous oil spills in Nigeria.

“This is not the sort of industry we want in our waters. The Government has to give up on its obsession with expanding the fossil fuels industry, and instead invest in clean technologies that will address the climate crisis, and provide the sort of stable economic future that will give us real prosperity’” says Abel.

A seismic survey is expected to begin in the Great South Basin in December.


For interviews, call Steve Abel, Greenpeace NZ Climate Campaigner, on 021 927 301.