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Open Letter To Minister Megan Woods Re Sale Of The Maari Oil Field

"We urge the Minister to halt the consent for the transfer of interest and change of operatorship of the Maari oil field from OMV to Jadestone Energy. Decisions on such proposals should not be made, at least until the Crown Minerals Act and other required legislation are properly in place, to ensure that oil companies are made fully liable for proper decommissioning of their infrastructure at sea and on land.

We do not support the transfer of any existing oil, gas or coal permits or extension of expiring permits. We have a climate emergency now. It requires urgent and progressive action to cut our fossil fuel reliance and support genuine solutions," said Catherine Cheung, researcher of Climate Justice Taranaki.

Dear Minister Woods,

Re: Transfer of Maari Field from OMV to Jadestone

Climate Justice Taranaki urge you and NZ Petroleum and Minerals to halt the granting of consent for the change of operatorship and transfer of interest of the Maari Field from OMV to Jadestone Energy.

We see hugely unjustifiable risk of such a transfer, mirroring the regrettable economic burden and environmental threats on Aotearoa, resulting from the liquidation of Tamarind Taranaki Ltd. which owned and operated the Tui Field. We cannot understand how all this was allowed to happen while Tamarind Resources’ other subsidiary, Tamarind NZ Onshore Taranaki, is free to continue its operation in Taranaki[i] unaffected.

We are extremely concerned over the integrity and environmental performance of the Maari field operation, with the aging FSPO Raroa, noting the many documented incidents and oil spills associated with the operation over the years[ii], [iii], [iv]. Safe operation and the eventual decommissioning of this, and other, fields will require substantial financial and technical capability and a robust legal framework.

A case in point, a 40-tonne piece of mooring equipment from the offline Woollybutt oilfield off Western Australia was reported floating in the ocean in August this year, causing serious navigation hazard[v]. The mooring system had a design life of five years and fatigue life of 15 years, but had been left in the field for 17 years.

Another case from Australia, Woodside Petroleum, operator of an oil production site in the Timor Sea from 1999-2016, sold the operation to Northern Oil and Gas Australia (Noga)[vi]. The operation was shut down in 2019 because of corrosion at the site with the potential to cause “multiple fatalities”. Noga entered voluntary administration and subsequent liquidation in February this year. Woodside refuses any liability for the $200 million needed to clean up the site. Experts advised the Australian authorities to introduce “trailing liability” which requires site owners to be liable for decommissioning even after sales of an operation, and to ensure financial guarantee.

We are aware that the NZ government is currently reviewing the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (CMA) and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act 2012 (EEZ Act)[vii] to strengthen the regulatory framework for decommissioning petroleum infrastructure and the associated enforcement tools.

Notably, we understand that the government has taken policy decisions to amend the CMA[viii] to:

"Impose a statutory obligation on all current and future petroleum permit and licence holders to decommission their infrastructure, as an integral part of their petroleum mining operations, and extend this obligation to former permit and licence holders in the case of a transfer..."

We ask that any proposed sales or transfer of ownership and operatorship of oil and gas fields, on and offshore, be blocked at least until the CMA, EEZ Act and any other required legislation are properly in place, to ensure that companies are fully liable for responsible decommissioning, environmentally and socially.

Indeed, we do not support any extension of expiring petroleum permits or transfer of ownership or operatorship of existing permits, on or offshore, due to the climate emergency which requires urgent and progressive action to cut our fossil fuel reliance and support genuine solutions.

We sincerely hope you would consider our request and look forward to a response.

[i] https://www.tamarindresources.com/latest-news

[ii] https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/62391/second-oil-spill-on-tanker-in-month

[iii] https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/66524920/oil-spill-off-taranaki-coast

[iv] https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/318811/maari-oilfield-shut-down-after-crack-found-in-platform

[v] https://www.upstreamonline.com/safety/floating-hazard-eni-issued-safety-notice-as-equipment-floats-to-surface-at-ageing-oilfield/2-1-870951

[vi] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/09/calls-for-woodside-to-pay-200m-to-clean-up-moribund-timor-sea-oil-site-it-ran-until-2016

[vii] https://www.mfe.govt.nz/more/briefings-cabinet-papers-and-related-material-search/cabinet-papers/final-policy

[viii] https://www.mbie.govt.nz/building-and-energy/energy-and-natural-resources/a-minerals-and-petroleum-resource-strategy/#Review-of-crown-minerals-act


Climate Justice Taranaki

http://climatejusticetaranaki.info - Climate Justice Taranaki is a community group committed to justice, action and true solutions to climate change.

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