OMV GSB consents granted with conditions
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2019
Applications by OMV GSB Limited (OMV GSB) for a marine consent and a marine discharge consent in the Great South Basin, offshore Otago, have been granted, subject to conditions.
Oil and gas company OMV GSB applied for permission to undertake the drilling of up to 10 exploration and appraisal wells, as well as the associated discharges, within its Petrol Exploration Permit 50119 in the Great South Basin. These applications were for non-notified activities, meaning public submissions were unable to be sought.
The consents were granted by a Decision-making Committee appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
To inform its consideration of the applications, the Committee sought expert advice, including in the areas of benthic ecology (organisms that live on the ocean floor), oil and gas operations, oil spill modelling, sediment dispersal modelling, and ecotoxicology.
The Committee concluded that the potential effects of the planned activities, including cumulative effects on the biological environment and effects on existing interests, are not significant because they are either temporary or involve small areas (or low proportions) of habitat.
Despite this, the consent is subject to a number of conditions to ensure any adverse effects are appropriately managed, particularly those relating to the sensitive environments, protected species and existing interests. The conditions include a requirement to carry out environmental monitoring before each well is drilled and for three years after completion. The monitoring will need to be carried out in accordance with an environmental monitoring plan certified by the EPA.
There has been a high level of public interest in OMV’s applications, particularly in relation to the potential impact of the activity on climate change. The Committee notes in its decision that the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 specifically prevents it from having regard to the effects on climate change in its consideration of the application.
If OMV GSB wishes to proceed to production drilling in the Great South Basin after completion of its exploration and appraisal drilling programme, it would need to make publicly notified applications. These would be considered by a Board of Inquiry appointed by the Minister for the Environment.