Think Again Prime Minister – Raukūmara is up to Twice Depth of Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Press release - April 7, 2011
Ōpōtiki, Thursday 7 April 2011: The Prime Minister John Key yesterday evening revealed on Radio New Zealand’s Wātea News that he’s been poorly informed on deep sea drilling plans for New Zealand.

John Key claimed that the Raukūmara Basin where Petrobras is currently conducting seismic testing for oil drilling, is not as deep as the location of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico: “I don't think it’s in nearly as deep as water as what we saw in The Gulf”, he said (1).

“In fact it is up to twice the depth”, said Steve Abel, Greenpeace New Zealand’s Climate Campaigner, “The big oil companies are hunting in increasingly more extreme places because the days of easily accessible oil are over. This is why we must begin to wean ourselves off oil and onto renewable fuel sources. The costs of exploration and extraction will continue to increase and with them the risks of environmental disasters”.

Key also wrongly asserted that, “Any offshore drilling operation there's obviously environmental risks, but New Zealand has proven it can manage those risks”.

Further showing his lack of knowledge he implied that deep water drilling has been occurring in Taranaki for some years when Taranaki’s fields are mostly in shallow coastal waters.

“…and as the people of Taranaki show and tell us it’s been very, very successful for a long period of time,” said Key.

“Also to claim things are going swimmingly in Taranaki when oil has washed up along the Kapiti coastline (2) isn’t accurate,” said Abel.

The exploratory drill at the location of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was at 1500 metres, whereas the Raukūmara Basin is mostly over 2000 metres and deeper with areas up to 3000 metres. This is twice the depth at which the disaster occurred in the US Gulf of Mexico.

John Key also claimed that we had adequate safety measures, high environmental standards and this proved the Government had good risk management – but this both contradicts his own ministers and even the oil industry itself. There is only one full time inspector devoted to oil rigs within the New Zealand EEZ (3).

Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, Board Riders Against Drilling and other organisations have joined to support the call by te Whānau ā Apanui to protect the Raukūmara Basin from deep sea oil drilling. Currently a flotilla opposing deep sea oil drilling is in the Bay of Plenty monitoring the seismic survey ship contracted by Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.

- Ends -

(1)"Any offshore drilling operation there's obviously environmental risks, but New Zealand has proven it can manage those risks I don't think it’s in nearly as deep as water as what we saw in The Gulf and as the people of Taranaki show and tell us its been very very successful for a long period of time, we've high environmental standards and in fact the Government is in the process of improving it's environment standards in the EEZ" - John Key - Wātea News, Weds 6th April 2011

(2) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4422392/Kapiti-beaches-on-alert-for-oil-spill-residue

(3) Governing our Oceans: Environmental Reform for the Exclusive Economic Zone” by Raewyn Peart, Kelsey Serjeant and Kate Mulcahy (EDS Policy Paper, April 2011) - Quote - pg. 33

Categories