New Zealand's Green Party is condemning the Government for beginning the tender process today for 23 oil and gas permits, a number of which allow for deep sea oil drilling.
"Without having consulted the general public, the Government is risking our clean green image and our pristine shores, by selling the right to conduct risky deep sea drilling in New Zealand," said Green Party Energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
The Government invited submissions from selected iwi and local councils on the proposed block offer tenders, but the wider New Zealand public was excluded from the formal consultation process.
"Two of the permits for tender require the permit holder to drill an exploratory well at depths of greater than 1,000 metres, yet the general public has been denied their say," said Mr Hughes.
"Exploratory wells may sound harmless, but the Gulf of Mexico spill was from an exploratory well of 1,500 metres.
"Drillers here face greater earthquake risks and wilder seas than in the Gulf of Mexico and handle much heavier oils, yet we have fewer resources to deal with a spill.
"If there is a leak from a deep sea oil rig there is no easy way to stop it. The consequence for New Zealand's environment, economy and reputation would be catastrophic."
Last year, the then executive officer of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand, John Pfahlert, said that there is no absolute guarantee that disasters won't happen here, and that the only response to spills such as the Gulf of Mexico disaster would be a beach clean-up.
"There is no guarantee of safety with deep water oil drilling so we shouldn't be doing it," said Mr Hughes.
"We have seen the damage done by the Rena oil spill - a deep sea oil disaster would be hundreds of times worse.
"We don't need to risk our shores for the sake of a quick buck that will mostly benefit overseas oil companies.
"Our future prosperity depends on investment in clean, green technology, and sustainable jobs," said Mr Hughes.
Source: Scoop NZ