Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Leaving us with the bill

Two weeks ago, Malaysian-owned oil company Tamarind declared it was insolvent and went into administration after a failed offshore drilling campaign. Tamarind apparently specialises in buying oil fields at the end of their life and trying to squeeze out the last few drops of pollution. But part of their scam may also be leaving us with the cleanup bill:

The $155 million bill to decommission an oil field off the coast of Taranaki may end up being covered by taxpayers.

Tamarind Taranaki, which owns the Tui Field, went into voluntary receivership earlier this month, meaning the government could be responsible for plugging and abandoning its wells.


But the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said in a statement that if the company was not able to cover the costs of abandoning the field, the entire bill may fall to the Crown.

There's an obvious parallel here with climate change (where the fossil fuel industry is also leaving up with the cleanup bill, despite having created the problem), and it ought to be a warning about the dangers of allowing these companies to operate in New Zealand. At the least, before they drill a single well, they should be required to deposit a bond covering the entire cost of cleanup with the government, to prevent them from pulling this sort of scam in future.