US oil spill report a warning for NZ not to invite deepwater oil industry here

Press release - January 12, 2011
Auckland 12/1/11: Greenpeace is calling on the Government to pay heed to President Obama’s commissioned report on the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill – and cancel all new offshore oil drilling tenders and permits.

This comes as the official report into the disaster by The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, declares that the spill was a result of cost cutting and systemic failures within the oil industry – an industry our Government is bending over backwards to bring to New Zealand.

The report is a damning indictment on the oil industry’s relentless push into ever more dangerous deep water exploration. It recommends changes in almost every area, from safety and environmental practices, safety training, drilling technology, and containment and clean-up technology, to preparedness, corporate culture, and management behaviour.

“But the elephant in the Gulf problem is that irrespective of all the technology and policies recommended by the report, they still won’t fix the much bigger problem that is climate change. Once you add that into the mix, the common sense response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster is to ban deepwater drilling altogether,” says Greenpeace NZ Climate Campaigner Nathan Argent.

Greenpeace New Zealand is therefore calling on the Government to cancel all deepwater exploration permits, as companies like Anadarko, which owns a quarter of BP’s blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, explore for oil off our pristine coastlines.

“The commission’s findings should be a wake-up call for Gerry Brownlee. It is clear that existing safety measures are woefully inadequate to prevent a similar, catastrophic oil spill here in New Zealand,” says Argent.

In December last year, Minister Brownlee admitted that there is not an adequate environmental and health and safety regulatory regime in place to allow the
Government's planned expansion of offshore oil exploration.*

‘Deepwater’ or ‘offshore’ oil-related activities are defined as those that take place in water that is more than 200 metres deep.

“When things go wrong at these extreme and challenging depths, it’s incredibly hard to fix and New Zealand simply doesn’t have the safeguards or the contingency to deal with such an event. Just imagine the impact of an oil spill off Opotiki, the Caitlins, or the Marlborough Sounds,” says Argent.

The report also recommends that lawmakers begin a transition to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future for reasons of energy security, and because of the need to reduce climate-wrecking emissions.

“The Government must abandon its reckless efforts to subsidise the dirty oil industry of the past and embrace the cleaner, smarter technologies of the future. It’s time to go beyond oil and start investing in the home grown, world class clean technologies that will help in the fight against climate change, and be the foundation of a sustainable 21st Century economy,” Argent says.