In the wake of last week’s reports that oil giant Shell  is having a firesale of its New Zealand assets,  prospecting company ION Geophysical has also now relinquished its oil surveying permits, which covered almost half of New Zealand’s waters.

ION’s bid, lodged last September, was the largest application ever to be made for prospecting in New Zealand’s EEZ. It involved surveying 1.6 million square kilometres of ocean.  

To add to the mass pull-out, another Houston based company, TGS, also yesterday withdrew its application for its major offshore prospecting permit off the West Coast of the North Island.

Greenpeace New Zealand’s senior campaign advisor, Steve Abel, said the growing list of oil companies bailing are a solid indication that the Government’s oil programme is dying a death.

“Prospecting is the essential first step of offshore drilling.  These companies gain data that is on-sold to the oil companies, but if there is poor indication of possible oil or there aren’t buyers for the data then the prospectors aren’t going to waste their time and money on surveying,” he said.

“The ION and TGS departures are another critical blow to John Key’s offshore oil prospects. I think it’s safe to say the New Zealand’s offshore oil industry is in freefall. International petroleum players are dropping like flies.

“It’s high time for Key to give up on this waste of taxpayers money and make good on the  promises he made at the Paris climate conference by quitting support for oil drilling and properly backing the clean innovative sectors that should be powering and providing jobs and income for New Zealanders.”

Map of ION Geophysical’s permit area