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Two in three chance of oil ‘beaching’ from a blowout

If there’s a deep-sea well blowout off the likes of Raglan there’s a 66 per cent chance of oil ending up on our beaches, Texan oil giant Anadarko revealed in a massive information dump last Friday.

The 1700-odd pages of annexes to Anadarko’s environmental impact assessment – released by Maritime NZ after Parliament closed for the year – also estimate a spill rate of between 12,000 and 18,000 barrels of oil a day, figures higher than contained in an earlier Greenpeace report which was attacked by the Government as “scaremongering”.

The documents show, too, that there would be a long wait for relief. A capping stack could take 33 days to arrive, and there could be an 80-115 day wait for the nearest relief rig – in East Africa – to arrive and drill a relief well.

Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes says he shudders to think of the impact there’d be on animals, the ocean and the economy while New Zealand waited for help.

He says the details in the information dump show New Zealanders have every right to be concerned about deep-sea oil drilling. Kiwis should have seen this information before drilling began, and the Environmental Protection Agency should have seen it before allowing Anadarko to drill off Raglan.

Meanwhile Greenpeace has been arguing in the High Court that the EPA made an error in law by giving Anadarko the go-ahead without looking at the documents.

Greenpeace chief policy adviser Nathan Argent has been quoted as saying that “the whole Government process around deep-sea oil drilling has swung between utter farce and total shambles”.

Edith Symes
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