Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Don't let OMV destroy the planet

Last month, we learned that Labour's "commitment" to end offshore oil drilling wasn't. In an act of bad faith with their coalition parner, and total, two-faced dishonesty, they were quietly planning to extend existing offshore drilling permits, giving polluters more time to drill. And now, thanks to Greenpeace, we know who they plan to help out this way: Austrian polluter OMV:

Greenpeace has today revealed that Austrian oil giant OMV has requested an extension to its upcoming drill commitment in the Great South Basin.

Greenpeace Climate Campaigner, Kate Simcock, says an Official Information Act (OIA) request has uncovered OMV’s application for the permit extension, which otherwise required it to drill an exploration well before July 2019.

“Six months ago the Coalition Government announced it would not grant any new oil exploration permits because of climate change. Today we learn that Austrian oil giant OMV is going to test the Government’s commitment to action on climate change by demanding more time to drill for oil,” Simcock says.

“Any extension of an existing permit is essentially granting a new permit. In banning new oil exploration permits, the Government responded to a clear desire by New Zealanders for climate action. Now they must to stand strong on that principle – extending permits is not consistent with that.”

Looking at the documents, OMV wants to extend their drilling deadlines for two years each. Supposedly, this is about geophysics (though all the details are redacted as "commercially sensitive", of course). But realisticly, its about playing for time and gambling on a change of government to reverse the exploration ban. Because the cost-benefit analysis of whether drill in any particular spot looks very different if its the last one you're ever going to get.

Meanwhile, as yesterday's IPCC report shows, even if there is oil in the Great South Basin, we can't ever burn it, which means there is no point even looking anymore. Obviously that's not something the oil industry is ever going to accept: they profit by destroying the planet, and their "response" to climate change is to buy lobbyists to deny it. Meanwhile, in the real world, the planet is melting, and the course of action is clear: if we are to live, the oil industry has to die.

As for what to do about it, the government is currently seeking submissions on its legislation to implement the offshore drilling ban. As part of this, they're proposing a minor tweak to the law on changes to permits, to prevent them from being extend to land outside Taranaki. A second tweak forbidding any change to any permit to explore for petroleum on any land outside of onshore Taranaki seems to be required. And if the government doesn't introduce such a change, we'll know that they are two-faced liars, and can vote accordingly.