Environmentalists delighted as oil drilling proves fruitless

SUSAN STRONGMAN AND SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014
Noble Bob Douglas
TARYN UTIGER

The Anadarko exploration programme in the Deepwater Taranaki Basin has proved fruitless.

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Anadarko's failure to find oil in the Deepwater Taranaki Basin does not spell the end for exploration in the area.

Despite the Texan company's announcement yesterday that it did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons after about 70 days of drilling in deep water about 200km off the coast of Raglan, it would retain its licence and would not rule out the possibility of future drilling in the area.

Anadarko New Zealand's corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said it was the nature of the business and statistically only one out of 10 exploratory wells were successful. "But we got a heck of a lot of valuable information which will inform our future activity in Taranaki."

The well, which was drilled under 1500 metres of water, will be plugged and abandoned over the next few days, he said.

It was part of a US$250 million (NZ$306m) drilling programme off Taranaki and the South Island over the summer.

After drilling in the Canterbury Basin, drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas, which cost $1.2m a day to run, would head to the Gulf of Mexico.

Urs Signer, from the environmental group said Climate Justice Taranaki, said Anadarko's failure to find commercially viable oil off the Taranaki coast was "a call for celebration and a victory for the planet".

"People need to face the fact that the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end," he said.

"We can throw money into the drilling wastebin or we can reduce our energy use and move to a clean, renewable energy economy. The world's oceans and climate are better off now with the failure of these oil rigs."

Prime Minister John Key said oil drilling had risks, and not striking oil was one of them.

"It's well established that a huge number of wells that these companies will drill for will prove not to actually have either commercial oil or hydrocarbons, or none whatsoever.

"So it's disappointing from Anadarko's point of view and from our point of view, because of course that would be great for New Zealand if there was some big oil findings there," he said.

Energy campaigner for Greenpeace Steve Abel said it was a "real bad day" for Anadarko and the New Zealand Government.

"The Texan oil giant has not only announced that their New Zealand drilling has failed, they've also announced a loss of over $950 million dollars in the last quarter," he said.

The announcement from Anadarko comes hot on the heels of a similar announcement by Austria-owned OMV New Zealand.

On Friday OMV announced an exploration well, off the Taranaki coast, drilled to a depth of 4846 metres by drilling rig Kan Tan IV, would be plugged.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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