OFO/DCC Submission to Petroleum Block Offer 2014

Otago Harbour

Otago Harbour

Oil Free Otago’s submission to the Dunedin City Council submission to Petroleum Block Offer 2014.
DCC now have until 14 November to correlate residents’ responses and write their own submission. All residents’ submissions will be attached as an appendix which will go to NZ Petroleum and Minerals (NZPAM), which reports to Simon Bridges, Minister of Energy and Resources.

Submission on Petroleum Block Offer 2014 consultation

To the Dunedin City Council


31 October 2013


Email contact details: oilfreeotago@gmail.com

Kia ora

Oil Free Otago acknowledge the government’s commitment to consult with iwi and hapu about Block Offer 2014 and are pleased to accept the mana whenua’s important role as Kaitiaki of the coast and ocean on behalf of us all. However, we do not accept that other residents will not be consulted. Even local authorities are not being consulted, but onlynotified to ensure an informed and robust process“. This is not acceptable.

The risks to Dunedin (and in the wider context to all New Zealanders and to the world) of deep sea drilling off the Otago coast and anywhere in our exclusive economic zone are so serious that we recommend that all deep sea exploration and drilling in NZ should cease. The two major risks are local, to the environment and the economy and global, to climate change.

Environment and economy 

A major gas blowout or oil spill has the potential to ruin Dunedin’s environment and economy, due to its effect on: 

Our Otago coast’s clean unspoilt beauty, its unique wildlife and the special lifestyle it affords (surfing, diving, boating etc) – and on the importance of NZ’s 100% pure clean green brand.

Dunedin’s ecotourism which brings around $100 million annually into our local economy. Wildlife that would be affected includes:

yellow eyed penguins

Northern royal albatross (more albatross species breed in our exclusive economic zone than anywhere else in the world)

world’s rarest sea lion, the NZ sea lion

38 of the world’s 80 whale and dolphin species breed here. Whales are returning to the Otago coast after many years’ absence.

The fishing industry – commercial, recreational and customary. Fishing is New Zealand’s fifth largest industry, generating $1.2 – 1.5 billion per year. The fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico may take 50 years to recover from the Deepwater Horizon disaster – if ever. (John Wathen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yduv3APYawA)

Rather than being an economic boon as many suggest or believe, the industry is an economic and social burden. 

The oil and gas industry has already cost taxpayers $46 million this year. (http://awsassets.wwfnz.panda.org/downloads/wwf_fossil_fuel_finance_nz_subsidies_report.pdf)

We could not afford a disaster. The Deepwater Horizon disaster cost Americans $42.2 billion. (wikipedia)

Jobs will not be for local people – they will be specialist positions for foreign or out of town experts (http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/natural-resources/pdf-docs-library/oil-and-gas/economic-contribution-of-oil-and-gas-industry/BERL%20report.pdf)

Infrastructure costs, for example improving Dunedin airport for larger industry traffic, would likely fall upon the ratepayer and taxpayer with no regional royalties from the industry.

Concern of the social impact of a large extractive industry offshore – what effects will fly-in fly-out workers have on our safe Dunedin social fabric?

It is economically naive to invest money and energy in exploring for and producing a product that must not be used due to climate change (see below). For our local community to depend on oil or gas for its wellbeing makes no economic or social sense whatsoever (eg: Environmental Debt, Amy Larkin, 2013 p150)

Anadarko were a 25% co-owner of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and received daily reports of events leading up to that disaster. It appears they were not a passive investor as asserted by NZ’s Anadarko CEO on Campbell Live 8 October 2013. This assertion and other incidents, such as a US class actions against them, the Anadarko NZ companies being registered in the Cayman Islands (why, if not to avoid paying income tax?), their lack of transparency whilst visiting Dunedin and their use of military counterinsurgency tactics against US citizen industry activists (http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/11/11/gas-companies-caught-using-military-strategies-to-overcome-drilling-concerns/) do not paint Anadarko as a trustworthy corporate citizen yet we are being asked to trust them with our ocean and livelihoods. Is this the type of company we should invite to Dunedin?

The risky nature of deep sea drilling in the New Zealand context

The treacherous southern ocean environment – weather extremes, ocean currents from the Antarctic, huge swells as high as six story buildings. (http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/reports/Out-Of-Our-Depth-Deep-sea-oil-exploration-in-New-Zealand/)

The distance from help. Relief rigs, if available at all, could be months away and capping devices, the closest of which may be in Singapore, would take at least two weeks to get here. (evidence presented by Shell at August 2013 consultation meeting)

The inadequacy of our Maritime NZ response unit – three “tinnies” with no subsea response capacity.

The government’s use of Corexit. The government has not ruled out using Corexit in the event of a disaster. It used Corexit for two weeks after the Rena oil spill. Corexit is a known carcinogen that has been banned in European countries. It must be banned here and not used again as an oil spill response tool.

Risk data put forward by companies such as Anadarko is historical and not relevant to the untried conditions of our southern ocean.

Climate Change

New Zealand, along with many other countries, has agreed to limit global warming to two degrees, yet its policies contradict this agreement. In order to meet its obligation to the world community and to future generations, 80% of already discovered burnable carbon (oil, gas and coal) must stay in the ground. To stay below the two degree limit all coal must be phased out by 2030, there must be no more drilling for polar or deep sea (marginal) oil and gas, and the remaining conventional oil and gas must be used to urgently build up the infrastructure needed for a low carbon future. (ref: Professor Bob Lloyd, University of Otago, September 2013) It is therefore irresponsible at this time to drill for more, marginal, deep sea oil or gas in dangerous frontier regions such as our southern ocean.

DCC’s submission to last year’s 2013 Petroleum Block Offer recognized the cost to communities of adaptation and mitigation of effects of climate change, and recognised oil and gas’s contribution to climate change but did not appear to join the dots. Governments and local authorities have a duty of care to their citizens. To endorse deep sea drilling off our coast is to disregard this duty.


Climate change mitigation and adaptation measures must match the seriousness of the issue. National and local leaders no longer have the luxury of ignorance nor of failing to join the dots. If we are to take the experts at their word, a ‘wartime response’ to climate change will be needed to keep global warming to a level that will allow for the survival of future Dunedin citizens. Fortunately, we have the ability to make the changes needed in Dunedin and with courage from our leaders could achieve it. Changes are already being made, as proposed in much of the DCC Energy plan, such as making Dunedin a more cycle-friendly city. We have the know-how for an electric car conversion industry to begin immediately to convert Dunedin’s transport fleet. We must encourage local food and low carbon industries such as the electric tram, trains and make public transport affordable and attractive to use. We must stop burning dirty, polluting lignite and coal in our boilers and homes. And again, we recommend that all deep sea exploration and drilling in NZ should cease. There is no time to waste.

One comment

  1. I agree with all that is said above. I would like to add that the potential cost to the environment is catastrophic. A major oil spill would take approximately 50 years to clean up and recover from. Financially this would cost our tax payers approximately 20 billion dollars. We, the people of NZ
    have the right to decide where are tax money should go. As the hazards of an oil spill are so enormous, we need this issue to be part of a referendum and voting issue. With clear transparency, time , and honest information be available for the people of New Zealand to make an informed choice. It is not moral or democratic that a decision this big be in the hands of a select few. When It is clear the consequences would affect everyone. In Equador, 18 years after oil dumping in their pristine Rainforests, they are still fighting the effects of this disaster. Their damages came to approximately 20 billion dollars plus, and they have spent 18 long years fighting for their rights, with no financial compensation thus far. Although they have won the Court battle (which took 17 long years), These large corporations have already spent 1 billion dollars in litigation suing the Equadorian Government. This is not the fate I wish for New Zealand.
    From an economic point of view, it will take money out of the hands of the local region, through
    consumerism, tourism and health. Breathing in oil fumes creates respiratory problems, it will effect our Property economy and force our people to leave the region to go reside elsewhere. This will
    also impact hugely on tourism. Considering Tourism is such a big industry for our economy, receiving the second biggest Financial budget from our Government. It seems rather irresponsible to put our Tourism at such a risk. A majority of our Tourists come to NZ to see our wildlife, penguins, dolphins, whales, seals, bird life and to experience our beautiful clean green unpolluted environment.
    Oil drilling goes against all of this.
    Our sea mammals deserve to live in clean unspoiled oceans, and we the people of NZ deserve to breathe in clean air, and to swim in our oceans, and to be able to eat seafood from our shores.
    NZ is not for sale, our shores do not belong to big corporations who take almost no responsibility for the damages they incur. It is very clear that should a big oil spill happen, that NZ has no ability to contain such a spill. We have two small boats, very few people, and insufficient knowledge and skill. The oil spill off the coast of Mexico, is a very clear indication of what we could be subjecting ourselves to. This is criminal to our sea wildlife, our people, our Human Rights and Environmental Laws.
    Georgina Papageorge

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