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Cancel new offshore oil drilling tenders and permits

Government must cancel all new offshore oil drilling tenders and permits

Auckland 14 December 2010: Greenpeace is calling on the Government to cancel all new offshore oil drilling tenders and permits that have been granted by Crown Minerals to new offshore oil exploration by international oil companies.

The call comes in light of the admission today by Energy and Resources Minister, Gerry Brownlee, that there is not an adequate environmental and health and safety regulatory regime in place to allow the Government's planned expansion of offshore oil exploration.

The review of health, safety and environmental legislation for offshore petroleum operations by the Ministry of Economic Development comes after permits have been granted to major oil companies, including the Brazilian oil company Petrobras.

“Gerry Brownlee is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted – he has given permits without the correct regulations being in place. This is bad governance and now calls into question whether the regulatory review can be conducted honestly given that international oil companies will be lobbying for the weakest standards possible to protect profits,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer.

The MED report states in its executive summary that “given the planned expansion of offshore petroleum activity; the demonstrated unpredictability of accidents; and the need for a responsible precautionary approach to health, safety and environmental issues, there is little room for complacency about the current regime”.

“That’s official speak for ‘the Government is being totally reckless,’ says Boxer.

“As the world is running out of easy-to-access oil, the oil industry is looking for countries with a lackadaisical approach to environmental standards, where it can open up new frontiers in its search for the hard-to-reach stuff.

“Gerry Brownlee is trying to position New Zealand as one of those places. But the harder the oil is to reach, the higher the risk of a spill, as the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico highlights.

“The ocean in parts of exploration zones the New Zealand Government is opening up is deeper than the water the Deepwater Horizon was operating in when it lost control of its test well, which means the chances of a Gulf of Mexico-type spill happening here will be high.

“At any rate, burning fossil fuels will only bring us closer to the point where we trigger a state of runaway climate change … a point to which we are already frighteningly close,” says Boxer.

“If the Minister is genuinely committed to long term economic prosperity, he should be backing those home-grown businesses that are developing world-class clean technologies and moving New Zealand towards a cleaner, more sustainable future," Boxer says.

Ends

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