EPA grants marine consent for OMV exploration well
EPA grants marine consent for OMV exploration well in Taranaki Basin
The Environmental Protection Authority has granted a marine consent to OMV New Zealand Ltd for its Whio-1 exploration well in the Taranaki Basin.
It is the first application to be processed by the EPA under the non-notified provisions of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act (EEZ Act). However, most of the work was undertaken under the Act’s transitional provisions, which ended on 28 June 2014, and the well has since been plugged.
An EPA Decision-making Committee (DMC) approved the application with a set of conditions to manage any adverse effects to the environment and existing interests. The conditions will be monitored and enforced by the EPA.
EPA General Manager Applications and Assessment Sarah Gardner said the DMC found that the risk of adverse effects from the application was low and the conditions it imposed would appropriately avoid, remedy or mitigate those effects.
The conditions include removing all materials from the site within three months of completing the programme and carrying out a post-drill environmental monitoring programme. OMV also has to comply with its obligations to other government agencies such as those relating to its safety case and discharge management plan.
The decision can be viewed on the EPA website at: www.epa.govt.nz/EEZ/applications_EEZ/Non-notified_consents/OMV_NZ_Whio
The EPA is also considering a publicly notified application by OMV for its development drilling programme in the Maari field in the South Taranaki Bight. Submissions have closed on this application and a hearing will be held in due course.
The non-notified activities regulations of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act classify certain activities that are involved in exploration drilling for oil and gas as non-notified discretionary activities. Exploration drilling is the drilling of an offshore well to identify oil or gas deposits and to evaluate whether they would be suitable for production.
Any operator who plans to carry out exploration drilling activities in the EEZ must make an application to the EPA for a marine consent for a non-notified activity. Applications for non-notified activities are not publicly notified. The EPA appoints a decision-making committee to determine whether the application should be granted or declined. If consent is granted, the decision-making committee can place conditions on the marine consent which will be monitored and enforced by the EPA.