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Energy Minister Misleads Public On Oil Exploration

Energy Minister Misleads Public

27 March 2011

A Gisborne District Councillor is claiming the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources is deliberately misleading the public in recent statements she has made about exploration for oil and gas off the East Cape.

Manu Caddie, a Gisborne City ward councillor, said Hekia Parata lied in a recent media statement and Opinion Piece that appeared in The Gisborne Herald on the 24th and 26th March.

In The Gisborne Herald articles Ms Parata says the permit is only for seismic testing not drilling and Petrobras would need another permit if they want to drill. “That is a blatant lie” said Mr Caddie “While Petrobras can surrender the permit after they complete analysis of the seismic testing, the permit expressly gives permission to drill a well.”

“I'm sure Ms Parata has actually read the Crown Minerals permit signed last year by her predecessor which states that: 'Within 60 months of the commencement of the permit, the permittee SHALL drill one exploratory well.' There is no need for Petrobras to come back and ask the government for another permit before they start drilling.”

The permit issued to Brazillian energy giant Petrobras by Gerry Brownlee in June 2010 is for oil and gas exploration over 12,330 square kilometres of the Raukumara Basin. The Gulf of Mexico disaster last year resulted from an exploratory gas well that exploded when compressed gas from the drill shot up the drill shaft and ignited on the platform killing 11 workers before spilling 700 million litres of oil into the ocean over several months.

A protest flotilla is heading for the East Cape this week to meet the seismic testing ship that is under contract to Petrobras and due to commence work on 3 April.

Opposition groups are also challenging the government to be consistent on its position on seismic testing. Last year the New Zealand government put pressure on Russia to stop oil and gas exploration using seismic tests in whale migration zones. A guide on marine mammal protection issued by the Department of Conservation lists the waters around East Cape as a key marine mammal migration area from Autumn through to Spring which is the period in which the Petrobras ship will be using underwater sonic shock waves to gather data on potential oil and gas deposits in the area.

Flotilla Information: www.stopdeepseaoil.org.nz

Ahi Kā Action Coalition: www.nodrilling.org.nz


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