Greenpeace has today revealed that Austrian oil giant OMV has requested an extension to its upcoming drill commitment in the Great South Basin.
Greenpeace Climate Campaigner, Kate Simcock, says an Official Information Act (OIA) request has uncovered OMV’s application for the permit extension, which otherwise required it to drill an exploration well before July 2019.
"Six months ago the Coalition Government announced it would not grant any new oil exploration permits because of climate change. Today we learn that Austrian oil giant OMV is going to test the Government’s commitment to action on climate change by demanding more time to drill for oil," Simcock says.
"Any extension of an existing permit is essentially granting a new permit. In banning new oil exploration permits, the Government responded to a clear desire by New Zealanders for climate action. Now they must to stand strong on that principle - extending permits is not consistent with that."
Greenpeace has launched a day of public mobilisation against OMV in Dunedin on October 13. The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, will be part of the mobilisation.
Simcock says the release of a cornerstone report yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed just how urgently the world needs to end any new oil development.
"The IPCC report shows that while it’s still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, to do so we have to act now, and very quickly. At a minimum this means halving the world’s carbon emissions over the next 10 years," she says.
"New Zealand has emerged as a leader on climate change thanks to our ban on new oil and gas permits, but we must continue to be a trailblazer on taking bold action. As a small nation, the most impactful thing we can do is show the world that courageous and dramatic action is achievable.
"This begins with not caving in to pressure from the oil industry at the first hurdle, on the first piece of globally celebrated climate action we’ve taken.
"The science is very clear: If we are to avoid climate catastrophe, the majority of known fossil fuel reserves can never be touched. It’s those new reserves that OMV is trying to exploit in our pristine ocean. This company is morally corrupt - it’s one of the world’s villains, and it must be stopped.
"OMV has extensive exploration permits in some of New Zealand’s most wild and pristine seas, close to Maui dolphin habitat, breeding and foraging grounds for Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales, and in the remote Great South Basin. We have mapped their permits and rigs, and it’s plain to see just how aggressively they have expanded in New Zealand."
The ban on new oil exploration permits announced by the Coalition Government allows for exploration to continue under existing permits, however there is no obligation for those permits to be renewed.
Simcock says OMV’s request to prolong its permit creates an opportunity for the Government to double down on its commitment to climate action and refuse the extension.