Protestors in Perth have called for the New Zealand government to reconsider offshore oil exploration permits granted to oil and gas giant Chevron in the Pegasus Basin.
Members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) gathered outside the New Zealand consulate in Perth yesterday to air their concerns over Chevron being granted a permit in New Zealand.
The permit will allow Chevron to explore thousands of square kilometres of New Zealand’s land and sea for oil and gas.
The New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website outlines that three offshore petroleum exploration permits in the Pegasus basin were granted last year to a" joint venture between Chevron New Zealand Exploration Limited & Statoil New Zealand. All three permits are for 15 years, and in all three cases Chevron is the operator - and Chevron and Statoil each have a 50% share of the permit."
According to the protestors, they already have hands on experience with Chevron which they claim has disappointed local communities in Western Australia by “failing to meet commitments for local jobs and to local businesses, poor safety and other conditions for workers, massive cost overruns and project mismanagement in its construction phase.”
The group presented a letter to the New Zealand consulate yesterday which outlined the concerns they had in regards to the way Chevron operates and the MUNZ National Secretary, Joe Fleetwood says, “Our members work in this industry, we support responsible drilling with high safety standards, but we do not support companies that have a bad environmental record and anti-worker agenda entering our industry.”
A statement on the Chevron website says it has spent over “20 years expanding systems that support a culture of safety and environmental stewardship that strives to achieve world-class performance and prevent all incidents. We call this Operational Excellence (OE), and it drives everything we do. Our workforce truly believes that incidents are preventable, and we have policies, processes, tools and behavioural expectations in place to assist us in achieving that goal.”
However the protestors who gathered in Perth yesterday had a different account, the letter presented to the New Zealand consulate said “Based on the global experience with Chevron, we are concerned that this exploration will not be in the best interest of your natural environment or your local families. Chevron has a concerning history of behaviour in the communities it depends on for its enormous profits. It makes promises about jobs, the benefits to local communities and protecting the environment that are often not met.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin says Chevron has a record of anti-worker activities and other bad practices in their global operations.
“We are alerting the New Zealand public that this operator has a very dubious record and Australian workers have experienced that first hand.”
According to Wikipedia, in April this year AmazonWatch released videos apparently showing employees and consultants working for Chevron finding petroleum contamination at sites in the Ecuadorean Amazon that the company claimed was cleaned up years earlier. These videos were confirmed as legitimate by Chevron legal counsel.
The protestors say the rally was the first step in the New Zealand link of what has become a global campaign demanding Chevron respect the communities it operates in.