EDS calls for deepwater drilling regs to be scrapped as Anadarko plugs first well

(TV3)

The Environmental Defence Society is calling for the government to scrap its draft regulations governing deep sea oil exploration on the same day as Texan oil explorer Anadarko said it was plugging and abandoning the first of the two deepwater wells it's drilling this summer.

While there were some oil and gas shows in the Romney-1 well, drilled in 1.5 kilometre deep waters off the Taranaki coast, Anadarko said the well was found to be water-bearing and "did not encounter commercial quantities of oil or natural gas."

The well was drilled without incident to a depth of 4.6 kilometres and demonstrated that deepwater wells could be safely drilled in New Zealand waters, said Anadarko spokesman Alan Seay.

"We always learn an awful lot from unsuccessful wells. It will be useful to determine next steps," said Seay.

The drill-ship Noble Bob Douglas will now head south to drill another deepwater well off the Canterbury coast in the Caravel prospect, and was expected to be ready to spud in by late next week.

Anadarko is conducting both wells under transitional arrangements ahead of the government setting regulations for oil and gas exploration in the country's vast Exclusive Economic Zone, extending 200 kilometres out from shore.

Submissions on draft regulations closed at the end of last week, with EDS calling for the government to go back to the drawing board, as the proposals were "inadequate and weak", with the intention to leave exploration wells as "non-notified" activities not requiring resource consent hearings creating unacceptable levels of environmental risk.

Instead, oil exploration should be treated as a notifiable, discretionary activity, rather than as currently proposed, both non-notifiable and permitted. The draft regulations envisage resource consent hearings only at the production well drilling stage, after commercially exploitable quantities of oil have been discovered.

"If we are to have oil and gas exploration in our deep oceans, we should have world class environmental oversight," said EDS chairman Gary Taylor.

"The proposal to make exploration drilling non-notified leaves the environmental approvals process up to the Environmental Protection Authority with no public scrutiny, involvement or hearing. We are being asked by the EPA to 'trust us - we know what we're doing'."

"This creates a real possibility of regulatory capture by the industry, one of the factors that a Presidential Inquiry found contributed to the Deepwater Horizons spill," said Taylor, referring the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"Regulatory capture is made even more likely by the fact that Ministers are acting as outspoken advocates for the sector in order, presumably, to counter pressure from interest groups that don't want any oil and gas exploration."

Taylor said the draft regulations were not based on any risk analysis of the threat from oil spills.

"Ministers are contending that there is a low probability of an oil spill. But risk is calculated by multiplying probability by consequences - and the consequences of a spill in New Zealand waters are enormous."

"In order to make regulations under the EEZ Act, the Minister must have adequate information. In the absence of a proper risk assessment, we cannot see how this test can be met," said Taylor.

(BusinessDesk)

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In 1997, based on earlier techniques used by Union Pacific Resources, now part of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Mitchell Energy, now part of Devon Energy, developed the hydraulic fracturing technique known as "slickwater fracturing" which involves adding chemicals to water allowing increase to the fluid flow, that made the shale gas extraction economical. As of 2013, in addition to the United States several countries are planning to use hydraulic fracturing for unconventional oil and gas production.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing#Massive_hydraulic_frac...

The considerable opposition against hydraulic fracturing activities in local townships has led companies to adopt a variety of public relations measures to assuage fears about hydraulic fracturing, including the admitted use of "mil­i­tary tac­tics to counter drilling oppo­nents". At a conference where public relations measures were discussed, a senior executive at Anadarko Petroleum was recorded on tape saying, "Download the US Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency", while referring to hydraulic fracturing opponents. ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing#Politics_and_public_po...

- they're characters, aren't they ...

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The company or the protesting opponents?

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Rigs not Regs :)

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Pity they can't get even the basic facts right - the EEZ extends 200 nautical miles, not 200 kilometres, from the base-line, that's about 370 km.

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One of the reasons this 4.5km shaft was drilled 'without incident' is that there was nothing to come out. Had it been on land it would have been a 'dry' well.

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We need the wealth that could flow to New Zealand from drilling operations.
Govt must ensure that this activity is facilitated as much as possible,consistent with our other values.
paleo

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