It has been announced that Chevron and Statoil have formed a joint venture to search for oil in the Pegasus Basin off New Zealand. The country’s government revealed that a block offer, including 15 new gas and oil permits, had been made, with three being awarded as offshore licences. This will allow Chevron to drill new wells up to 3km deep in an effort to discover new energy reserves.
The government awarded nine offshore and six onshore permits in total. This tops the ten permits issues in 2013 and will see nine companies given additional chances to explore potential oil and gas fields. One particular issue of note is the permits issued to Statoil and Chevron, which will be working together to cover an area of around 26,000 square kilometres in the Pegasus Basin.
Simon Bridges, the energy and resources minister, explained that the new permits are valued at over $110m for the initial exploration; if this proves successful, over $1bn of further work could result. “I think it's really all about ensuring we get a deeper understanding of what is happening in New Zealand, about what there is onshore and offshore and that enhances our ability to provide that economic game-changer that another basin would open up,” Mr Bridges added.
There has been some criticism of the plan, however, with environmental groups saying that the exploration stage is damaging. Russel Norman, the Green Party's co-leader, said that most of the new permits are considered as deep sea exploration areas as they will be operating at depths of over 300m; however, this includes part of a sanctuary that is home to the Maui’s dolphin, which is a critically endangered species. “This is an arrogant government that simply doesn’t care that New Zealanders want to protect the environment and it keeps giving permits to go ahead and destroy the environment,” Dr Norman said, adding that it seems the government is “intent on driving the Maui’s dolphin to extinction,” Dr Norman said, adding that it seems the government is “intent on driving the Maui’s dolphin to extinction”.
Mr Bridges sees no worries with allowing Chevron, a company currently fighting charges regarding a Brazilian oil spill in 2011, to conduct its work. The minister explained that the government has incredible high standards and that Chevron has had to go through a rigorous process to prove it is good enough to apply, and be issued with, exploration permits; in addition, before Chevron is allowed to drill, it will have to ensure that it meets Worksafe NZ and Environmental Protection Agency standards.
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