Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unlawful drilling?

A flotilla of protesters is currently confronting Texan oil cowboy Anadarko's drilling rig over plans to drill a test well off the Raglan coast in 1500 metres of water. Meanwhile, according to the Environmental Defence Society, Anadarko has not complied with the law and the grant of a consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012's transitional measures may be unlawful:

The Environmental Defence Society has questioned whether the Anadarko exploration project off the coast of Raglan is lawful.

“The Environmental Protection Authority is required to accept the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment. But the EPA has confirmed to us that it has not seen the Emergency Response Plan, part of the EIA, which Anadarko has prepared, that covers off what would happen in the event of an oil well blow-out,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“As Anadarko’s EIA conceded, a blow-out has a low probability but would have severe consequences for the marine and coastal environment. It is the biggest concern that we have and I think that would be shared by most New Zealanders.

“It is therefore surprising and disturbing that the EPA has not seen the ERP and has instead relied on Maritime New Zealand doing so. But the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 requires the EPA to do that - and it can’t simply pass that responsibility to another agency.

“To do that is arguably unlawful and that means that Anadarko may not be authorised to drill under the Act’s transitional provisions.

If this is the case, the EDS should go to court immediately to seek an injunction. And if Anadarko is inconvenienced, they can seek costs from the EPA, whose mistake has put them in this position.