Oil co staff in Kaikoura for hui

The community is invited to a public meeting to hear about future proposals for deep sea oil drilling and exploration in Kaikoura waters.

The meeting is scheduled for this Friday at Takahanga Marae. The Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, and personnel from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals will be present. They will introduce the oil company awarded the tenders for the two closest offshore blocks, Anadarko.

Te Runanga o Kaikoura chairman, Sir Mark Solomon, will facilitate the hui.

The day will begin with a powhiri at 10.30am. For those who have not been welcomed on to Takahanga Marae, please assemble at 10.15am and follow the Manuhiri sign.

Mr Bridges and general manager of the petroleum company, David Binnie, will be providing a New Zealand context of oil exploration and permits, and will introduce Anadarko director John Gordon, who will further elaborate on plans for the block permits.

There will be an open forum from 1pm and the meeting will close at 2pm.

Over the past 10 years the Government has offered up areas for petroleum exploration by way of the Block Offer process.

Block Offer 2012 included two areas offshore from Kaikoura Peninsula to Cape Campbell, known as 12PEG1 and 12PEG2, which Anadarko successfully won the bid for. Members of the Kaikoura community had petitioned for these two blocks to be withdrawn from tender earlier in the year, collecting 2330 signatures, along with a similar request from the Kaikoura District Council. This prompted a visit in May from the minister at the time, Phil Heatley, who was concerned withdrawing the blocks would have set a precedent nationwide.

At the time, Mr Heatley said the two blocks were considered "potentially highly prospective", although he promised to take into account the community's views including those of local iwi and coastal guardian group Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura. Most of the concerns raised around Kaikoura were relating to the environmental impacts seismic surveying and drilling would have on Kaikoura's diverse and abundant marine life, including the sperm whales in the Kaikoura Canyon.

Mr Heatley did not believe the prospect of off-shore drilling would harm Kaikoura's eco-tourism image, saying the proposed blocks were more than 60km offshore from Kaikoura and far away from the Whale Watch zone and proposed marine sanctuary.

Both permits have been awarded for a five-year duration, with surveying and reporting to occur during that period. If the exploration wells are found to be productive, Anadarko will be able to apply for a mining permit of up to 40 years.

Other concerns raised have been around the effectiveness of a cleanup operation in the event of a spill. Anadarko environmental health and safety manager Terry Bentham will also be at the meeting to address these, and other, concerns. At present Maritime New Zealand is responsible for oil spill response planning, regardless of the size of any spill, however, Anadarko will also have its own response plans and systems in place to reduce the likelihood and impact of a spill.

Kaikoura Star