Chevron Oil granted exploration permit in NZ

By Maiki Sherman

Almost 48,000 square kilometres have been agreed to by the government for oil exploration in New Zealand.

Six permits have been granted for onshore exploration while nine have been granted for offshore exploration.

Three years ago off the coast of Brazil an oil spill occurred totalling 2,400 barrels. A disaster which occurred on the watch of oil company, Chevron.  A company which was granted an exploration permit in New Zealand today.

According to Chevron General Manager, Liz Schwarze, “We were able to shut off the source of the hydrocarbons very quickly and bring the response team so that there was no impact to human safety and no impact to the environment.”

A total of 15 permits have been granted by the Government.   Three of the largest permits have gone to Chevron off the East Coast of the North Island.  Despite the disaster in Brazil the Minister says they weren't subject to heavier scrutiny.   

Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges says, "I’m satisfied that the processes we have here mean we don't get cowboys we get players that can satisfy us."

Ms Schwarze says, “We were approved to return to production last year, so we have learnt from that and bring that.”

Chevron will work on the new permits alongside Statoil, which is continuing with its current permit in Northland-Reinga.

Statoil has spent a year there already, however, is still faced with protest by local communities.  This also resulted in a protest concert held over the weekend.  

According to Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, “The people of Northland are concerned at the speed these permits are being handed out.”

Deputy President of Statoil, Pal Haremo says, “My strategy is to be open, learn and listen to the local communities.”

The Government says job creation is one of the benefits for communities such as Northland, however, Statoil isn't making any promises and says that's a long way off.

“I personally don't think any jobs will come of this for the North”, says Kelvin Davis.

A launch will be held in March next year for Block Offer 2015.