Oil spill risk a concern

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 15:22 15/02/2013

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The capabilities of oil giant Anadarko being able to clean up an oil spill, and the length of time it could take for help to arrive off the coast of Kaikoura were issues raised at the public meeting at Takahanga Marae on Friday.

Anadarko director John Gordon said the main focus of the company was on prevention. The company did, however, have assets which could be used. At the time of drilling, Anadarko would take note of the location of these assets, he said.

Ralph Hogan, spokesman for a group of concerned individuals, asked whether Anadarko would be prepared to place a bond ahead of drilling, in light of the cleanup cost in the Deepwater Horizon spill.

"Many of us cannot agree to drilling at that depth with today's technology - we just don't think it is a good idea," he said. "Is there a risk percentage [to this community] which you feel is worth taking?"

Mr Hogan also urged the energy and resources minister to ensure every drill remain publicly notified, something previous minister Phil Heatley had given assurances of when he visited Kaikoura last year. It was critical that this was not lobbed out, Mr Hogan said.

Other questions from around the room included whether Anadarko had factored in earthquake risk and the possibility that the faultline through the off-shore blocks could rupture. There was quite a lot of activity coming from the Pegasus Basin since the Christchurch earthquakes and the community was keen to make Anadarko aware of this.

The fact that tourism was one of Kaikoura's three main industries, with more than 56 eco-tourism ventures, was also of concern to locals.

Brett Cowan said a worst-case scenario would be devastating, and he asked if there was a contingency for this.

The new Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, said he did not believe drilling in itself would affect the town's tourism. However, in the worst-case scenario he would imagine compensation would be likely.

Anadarko's 5-year programme includes several options for the company and the Government to pull out of the process, and drilling is not expected to take place until the fifth year, if at all. Prospecting including seismic testing and mapping of the sea bed is planned with further analysis of this data before any decision is made to drill.

The company has promised to continue an open dialogue with the Kaikoura community.

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- Kaikoura Star

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