Statoil, Chevron and seismic activity on the agenda for Tairāwhiti hui

By Peata Melbourne

In the wake of overwhelming support from Tairāwhiti Māori for the Sioux Nation of North Dakota who are fighting the development of an oil pipeline under the Missouri River, the local community will be meeting on the exploratory activities of Chevron and Statoil for oil and gas in their own waters.

While Statoil's hunt for oil and gas will initially be conducted in seas from the top of the South Island to the Hawkes Bay, the National led government's 2016 Offshore Pegasus and East Coast Basins permit extends the exploratory area right up to Ruatoria.

Meanwhile the arrival of Statoil's ship Amazon Warrior, owned and operated by Schlumberger, has elevated concerns after last Monday's devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Amazon Warrior will conduct seismic blasting at the ocean floor to detect oil and gas, an activity believed to disturb, injure and even kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies.

Statoil was awarded 50% working interest in 3 blocks loacted in the East Coast and Pegasus basins, with Chevron as operator. The project covers more than 25,000 square kilometres and sit in water depths between 800 and 3,000 metres. The initial phase of the project will consist of data collection. 

Chevron maintain they aim to ensure the community and iwi groups are properly engaged and consulted during the planning and approval process of their committed work program. However, many from the Tairāwhiti communities are hoping for the same level of opposition and political pressure to be directed at Statoil who is set to prospect in Tairāwhiti waters in conjunction with American oil corporation Chevron, as there was for the Sioux Nation in North Dakota.

These issues and more will be discussed in Gisborne on the 22nd November from 5pm to 7.30pm.