Texan oil giant, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, may have left empty handed but they will return along with other companies. Below is a timeline of seismic surveying and drilling scheduled for the Great South Basin. The image in the top right corner shows the areas where permits are currently held for drilling (non-yellow) and the 2014 block offer (yellow) where New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, a government organisation, is actively recruiting foreign interest to bid on the rights to drill. Our oceans are being auctioned off. Click here for the 2015 Block Offer which is open for bids until 30 September 2015.

Oil Free Otago, Deep Sea Drilling, Timeline, Climate Change, Fossil Fuel Exploration

Timeline of Seismic Surveying (top) and Exploration Drilling (bottom) planned by companies permitted in the Canterbury and Great South Basins. Source: NZP&M Website

This summer Anadarko may be back for more seismic surveying, shortly followed by Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company. Also in 2015 TAG Oil and Anadarko plan to do exploratory drilling with the intent to extract resources just off the coast of Dunedin.

Deep Sea Drilling is of major concern in the Otago region of New Zealand because of the alarming environmental and economic risks that it poses to our people, our climate, and our land and sea.

Oil Free Otago – What do we stand for?

Oil Free Otago is a group of Otago residents who aim to protect our oceans and climate by preventing Deep Sea Drilling and further oil exploration off our coasts through nonviolent, community-led action.
OFO want to help build a positive future for Dunedin, Otago and Aotearoa. We are against deep sea drilling for oil and gas off our coast because:

  1. The risk of an accident – an oil spill or gas blowout – can’t be ruled out when fossil fuel companies drill in deep and dangerous oceans like the Canterbury and Great South Basins, where Anadarko and Shell are planning exploratory wells. Our kai moana, our fishing and tourist industries and our Kiwi beach lifestyle could be destroyed. Non-human creatures would be affected too, including the world’s rarest sea lion, the rare Hector’s dolphin, the southern right whale which is just beginning to return closer to shore since whaling ended many years ago. Seabirds would also be affected. While three species of albatross breed in the northern hemisphere, almost 20 breed in our southern ocean. We really are the sea bird capital of the world. We have a lot to lose.
  2. Climate change. Burning oil and gas produces carbon dioxide that causes global warming and climate change. We need to stop burning oil and gas within the next fifty years to keep global warming within the “safe” two degree limit that world governments have agreed to. We’re close to one degree now.


There’s another important skill needed. In order to change things we have to get brave, and be prepared to take peaceful action to stand up for the future. History is crammed full of great examples of peaceful direct action:

Ghandi led thousands of Indian people to the sea to make salt from sea water. It was his way of saying to the British, who ruled India, “We don’t need your salt, we can make it ourselves, so you can’t control us anymore.” That symbolic march helped India gain their independence from Britain. But you don’t even need thousands of people.

Rosa Parks was a black woman from the United States. She sat at the front of a bus and refused to move to the back where black people were supposed to sit according to the unjust laws at that time. That action helped spark the black civil rights movement in the 1960s in the United States.

We believe in fun and creative people power. Recently we’ve been holding film evenings, painting signs and banners, printing t-shirts, swimming at St Clair on the shortest day, getting all “oily” in a shop window and handing out pamphlets, holding stalls, and heaps of other stuff, showing others that we think deep sea drilling off Dunedin is a bad idea. If enough people stand up and say no to bad ideas and yes to a positive future, we all win.



  1. When was the last Oil Well spill in NZ? NZ has had over 1000 wells drilled, 197 of them off shore, NZ was the first country in the Commonwealth to drill for oil, and one of the first in the world, since 1865. Have I missed something about NZ oil spills? I will appreciate your reply.

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your question.
      Oil Free Otago is actually campaigning on deep sea drilling in Aotearoa, which is quite different, from the offshore (shallow water) drilling that has been happening in NZ for many years, and has much higher levels of risk. The first deep sea drill to take place in New Zealand happened in December 2013, 110 nautical miles off the coast of Raglan. The second one is due off the coast of Otago in February.

      Some good info regarding deep sea drilling can be found here:



      Of most concern to me, leaving oil spills out of the picture, are the climate change impacts associated with expanding our fossil fuel exploration to the very edges of the Earth (and technology), at a time when science is very clearly telling us that we must stop.

      I hope this is useful to you.

      Kind Regards,

      Niamh O’Flynn
      for Oil Free Otago

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