Thursday, April 21, 2011

If you can't plug it, don't drill it

Brazilian oil company Petrobras is currently exploring for oil off East Cape. At the moment they are just conducting a seismic survey, but they have permission to drill an exploratory well if the survey is successful. The government says they wil comply with "international best practice", but on Morning Report yesterday morning [audio], they admitted that they had no way of capping the well if there was an accident, and no plans to bring the latest technology to do so to New Zealand. Their assessment:

"if you had a major catastrophe, it'd be just as bad as you had in North America".

This is unacceptable. These people are exposing us to serious environmental risks, potentially costing us hundreds of millions of dollars. They should mitigate those risks using the best available technology. If they refuse to, they should not be allowed to drill. It is that simple.

As for the government, they are gambling with our environment. Our oil-spill response capability consists of three tiny vessels barely capable of dealing with a leaky fuel tank on a container ship, let alone a major undersea oil leak. But their economic plan rests on discovering oil (yes, seriously, that's their plan to catch Australia: discover oil. They might as well "plan" on winning Lotto), and so they are happy to let it go ahead, regardless of the risks, and regardless of the costs it imposes on the rest of us.