The owners of the Rena wreck say there's no point removing a large part what remains of the ship from the Astrolabe Reef.
An application for resource consent to leave the second part of the ship's accommodation structure where it lies, has been made to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council by the ship's owners, Costamare, and its insurer, The Swedish Club.
The Rena grounded near Tauranga on October 5, 2011, spilling fuel oil and containers into the sea.
Maritime New Zealand ordered the wreck to be removed but a spokesman said in 2012 if the insurers wanted to explore other options, "they would need to explore that with the [Bay of Plenty Regional Council] under the Resource Management Act".
Hugo Shanahan, spokesman for the owners and insurers, said today that the application was based on an underwater sonar survey following Cyclone Lusi in March, that confirmed a shift in the position and condition of what's left of the Rena wreck.
"The remaining section now lies in deeper water, between 24 metres and 53m, beyond depths typically accessed by recreational divers and will therefore form part of the resource consent application proposal," he said.
But Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby told Radio New Zealand today it was clear to him the insurers were looking to cut costs and get out of Tauranga.
He was also sceptical of the data provided by the ship's owner.
"The information that we've been given over a long period of time tends to be contradictory," he said.
Roger King of TMC Marine Consultants, which carried out the assessment, said a section had rotated, so it was now lying in a different direction and was significantly weakened.
This presented a greater safety risk and technical challenge for ongoing salvage operations, he said.
The salvage operation for the rest of the ship and its debris would continue, he said.
"The movement has helped to expose container and cargo debris that was previously difficult to access within holds four and five.
"As a consequence, Resolve Salvage and Fire is reconfiguring its large RMG 1000 barge to resume operations to further reduce the debris field, which covers the area of seabed between the bow and aft sections, and alongside the wreck to a depth of about 30m."