Oil exploration off the table

MPI is investigating after five dolphins died in a commercial fishing net. FILE PHOTO

An area off Banks Peninsula will not be drilled for oil exploration as part of this year’s block offer, but it could still be on the cards for 2017.

The large area next to a marine sanctuary was not sold for oil exploration as part of the 2016 Block Offer, it was announced last week.

The news comes a month after the city and regional councils made submissions on the proposed 2017 Block Offer stating they were implacably opposed to it.

A block offer is a competitive tender process, run by New Zealand Petroleum and Mineral each year, to encourage companies to bid for exploration permits.

Minister of energy and resources Simon Bridges announced last week one permit was issued to Todd Exploration as part of the 2016 Block Offer, for a 10-year onshore permit in the Taranaki Basin.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said she was thrilled with this year’s block offer outcome, however the result of the 2017 Block Offer would not be known until next year.

“We’re delighted it hasn’t been taken up because of the risk of not only oil spills, but the effects on marine mammals such as the hector’s dolphins around Banks Peninsula.”

The city council opposed both the 2016 and 2017 block offers saying there was no capacity to deal with an oil spill if it happened.

Last month, Mr Bridges said there were 19 trained responders for marine oil spills in Canterbury, 11 short of the recommended 30.

City councillor Vicki Buck said the proposal was “lunacy” and it was wonderful the area was not snapped up.

“I think we all know that it’s so environmentally and economically risky.”