Activists warn of deep sea dangers

Environmental campaigners say Shell will turn its attention to oil if it discovers the black gold in the Great South Basin while looking for gas.

Multinational energy giant Shell, along with several other energy companies, has committed to a $200 million exploration project in the Great South Basin, confident of a gas strike.

But Greenpeace New Zealand public engagement co-ordinator Genevieve Toop told about 30 people gathered in Invercargill last night if Shell and its partners struck oil, they would forget about the gas.

Ms Toop and Robin Wilson-Whiting were in Invercargill to provide more information to community members about the impacts and risks of deep sea drilling.

While deep sea oil drilling had been the main focus for Greenpeace New Zealand, Shell's decision to go searching for gas with a "drill or drop" option to drill a well in an exploration permit in the Great South Basin was also a concern, Ms Toop said.

Gas was being sold as a cleaner option without the risk of an oil spill but there were just as many environmental and economic risks associated with drilling for gas.

"Gas is not a safer option and a gas leak is also harmful for the surrounding environment," she said.

Ms Wilson-Whiting said the Government's promise of billions of dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs was misleading.

The main beneficiaries of the profits would be foreign companies and their workers.

"Local people and business would only get the scraps providing supplies to the rigs and some maintenance work," she said.

The thousands of jobs promised only equated to just over 100 each year when divided by the 35-45 year lifetime of the operation, she said.

Ms Toop said communities needed to mobilise and vocalise their opposition against big foreign-owned companies dictating what happens in New Zealand.

The Southland Times