'This should be a wake-up call'

20:31, Oct 15 2011
Clean up
LONG JOB: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Mt Maunganui.
Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning.
DEBRIS: Oil residues on Omanu beach at the 5 1/2 km beach entry point, Tuesday morning. Photographer Todd Murdoch says: 'I could smell the oil close to my house which is located 1km back from the beach.'
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Oil on the beach near Mount Maunganui.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.
Sunny, 9 years, with his dead fish on Mt Maunganui beach.
rena oil spill on Mt Maunganui Beach
Tauranga resident Chris Munro on Mt Maunganui beach, Wednesday morning.
penguin
COVERED: A bird lies dead on Mt Maunganui beach today.
Penguin
UNSURVIVABLE: A bird that has been washed up on the beach, coated in oil.
Papamoa
CASUALTY: One of the penguins that died following the oil spill. This was found at Papamoa just after high tide today.
Public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
Environment Minister Nick Smith (centre) and Transport Minister Steven Joyce (right) at a public meeting in Tauranga to discuss the unfolding disaster.
Papamoa clean up
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers help clean up the oil from the beach at Papamoa
Papamoa clean up
CLEAN-UP: Volunteers collecting oil sludge from the beach at Papamoa
Papamoa clean up
CLEAN-UP: Papamoa beach is covered with oil sludge
Papamoa clean up
SPOILED: Papamoa beach is covered in oil
Albatros
CRIPPLED: A wandering albatross covered in oil in Tauranga
Albatros
SOILED: Oil blobs at the Maketu shoreline
Clean up
WAITING COLLECTION: Scores of bags full of oil await collection in Papamoa.
Clean up
LOADING: Bags full of oil are collected from the beach at Papamoa.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
Oil washes up on Papamoa Beach.
Container on Mt maunganui beach
A container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
Container on Mt Maunganui beach
A woman walks past a container from the stricken Rena, washed up on Mt Maunganui Beach, Thursday October 13.
Container on Mt Maunganui beach
A man walks on Mt Maunganui Beach, with a container from the stricken Rena in the distance, Thursday October 13.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
The bleak scene as containers wash up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Police check a container that has washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Packets off meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Packets of meat patties from a container off the Rena have washed up on Mt Maunganui beach.
Papamoa Beach oil clean-up
The clean-up operation on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Papamoa Beach
Oil on Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Containers at Papamoa Beach
Containers washed up at Papamoa Beach, Thursday October 13.
Containers at Papamoa Beach
Two containers seen at Papamoa Beach on Thursday October 13.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Oil booms are prepared at the Maketu Estuary in the Bay of Plenty, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Territorial soldiers from Auckland clean up Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, Thursday October 13.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Oil scooped from the surface of the water inside the Rena shipwreck's 1km exclusion zone.
Rena container
STRANDED: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
Rena container
PULLED ASHORE: One of the Rena's broken containers which washed up on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
Rena container
SALVAGE:Containers sit in the water on Mt Maunganui beach. Pictured Friday, October 14.
Rena containers
SCATTERED: Containers on the beach just south of Mount Maunganui.
Rena penguin
A little blue penguin awaits transportation to the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre in Tauranga.
Rena Container
ON THE MOVE: A container is hauled off the beach.
John Key Rena
Prime Minister John Key attended a public meeting in Papamoa and went in a helicopter to see the Rena.
Container Rena
Containers on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken contanier washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
Volunteers clean up packets of burger patties from the broken container washed up on Mount Maunganui Beach.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
A seagull shows the effects of the spilt oil at Makatu.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
Advice about wildlife that may be affected by the Rena oil spill, at Mt Maunganui.
Little Blue Penguin gets a clean
Wellington Zoo vet Baukje Lenting with a Little Blue Penguin that is at Tauranga’s Bird Recovery Centre having oil cleaned from it using a toothbrush.
PM John Key views Little blue Penguins
PM John Key visits the Bird recovery Centre where he watches Little blue Penguins that have been cleaned of oil.
Protest rena
MAKING A STAND: Protesters gather outside the Tauranga District Court ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator on Wednesday, October 19.
Protest rena
AGAINST DRILLING: Protesters march against offshore drilling ahead of the appearances of the Rena's captain and navigator in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday, October 19.
Rena protest
EN MASSE: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga, ahead of the appearance of the Rena's captain and navigator in court.
Rena protest
IN NUMBERS: Protesters march against deep sea drilling in Tauranga.
Waihau Bay - rena
Debris covered in oil have wash-up at Waihau Bay on the East Cape where Taika Waititi's Boy was filmed.
Rena Bruce Goff
Oil responder Bruce Goff with the Terminator oil skimmer ready for deployment. on Sunday, October 23.

As authorities struggle with the environmental devastation of the Rena oil leaks, the government is pushing ahead with plans to tout New Zealand's offshore oil resources to overseas buyers.

The grounding of the cargo ship Rena has raised questions about New Zealand's ability to cope with a major oil spill, but the government is planning an international marketing campaign to boost offshore oil and gas exploration over the next three years.

The Ministry of Economic Development plans to appoint a provider this year to identify – and market to – exploration companies around the world ahead of block licensing next year. Promotional workshops in London, Singapore and Houston are part of the plan.

The Rena spill has killed more than 1000 birds already.
SHIP OF FUELS: The Rena spill has killed more than 1000 birds already.

Acting Energy Minister Hekia Parata told the Sunday Star-Times the government was committed to realising the potential of New Zealand's petroleum basins.

"New Zealand is blessed with an abundance of energy resources and the government wants to use those resources in an environmentally safe way to secure our energy future, and to lift our standard of living," said Parata, who is acting minister while Gerry Brownlee handles earthquake recovery in Christchurch.

Last year petroleum was our fourth-biggest export, contributing more than $2 billion to the economy, but addressing concerns raised since the Rena's grounding, Parata said the exploration industry was stable, with reputable, responsible players.

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"Oil and gas companies have emergency response plans in place as a matter of good business practice," she said.

For its part, the government had introduced legislation based on the world's best practice to apply in the exclusive economic zone, and had also established a high-hazards unit of eight inspectors for the petroleum industry.

But Green Party marine issues spokesman Gareth Hughes said the government needed to call a halt to its marketing campaign and rethink allowing more offshore oil exploration.

"It's irresponsible for the government to be pushing ahead...given the current oil crisis affecting the Bay of Plenty," he said.

"The spill should have been a wake-up call."

The government was being blinded by the potential economic gains and was ignoring the risks.

"It's irresponsible given that Kiwis will face 100% of the environmental risk, yet the taxpayer will get less than 4% of any financial benefits from oil drilling," Hughes said.

"Before anyone thinks about more deep sea oil permits, or even test wells, we need an urgent inquiry into Maritime New Zealand's response to the Rena.

"It has two investigations into the grounding but we need the government to commit to an investigation into our response. Was it up-to-scratch, did we have the necessary resources, why did it take so long?

"Kiwis have got to have faith in our government's ability to cope with any oil spills, whether they be from vessels or drilling, before we embark on what is a very risky strategy for economic development."

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said that since the Rena spill, thousands of New Zealanders had signed the organisation's No New Oil petition, and the total number of signatures now stood at almost 90,000.

"People are looking at the government's proposals for deep-sea oil drilling with fresh eyes," Abel said.

"They can see the obvious – that if we can't deal with a leak of thousands of litres in 100 metres of water just offshore, how could we possibly hope to deal with a leak of millions of litres at depths of thousands of metres?

"The cost to our economy and livelihoods could amount to billions if a major spill struck our precious coastal waters, and it's simply not worth the risk."

Last year, BP's Deepwater Horizon well disgorged 780 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over three months, devastating wildlife, local fishing and tourism. The extreme drilling depth was the main reason it took so long to stop the leak.

Here the government has already issued permits for exploratory drilling on the east coasts of both the North and South Islands at depths even greater than Deepwater Horizon.

"Two years ago New Zealanders stood up to see off plans to open our best conservation land for mining," Abel said.

"Now we need to stand up and stop deep sea oil exploration because our oceans and coastlines are too valuable."

Sunday Star Times