Drilling activist warns about Statoil

By Lindy Laird

1 comment
An anti-deep sea drilling activist warns that Norwegian petroleum giant Statoil has its sights on off-shore Northland.
An anti-deep sea drilling activist warns that Norwegian petroleum giant Statoil has its sights on off-shore Northland.

An anti-deep sea drilling activist says while there is no exploration happening in the Reinga Basin, Norwegian petroleum giant Statoil still has its sights on off-shore Northland.

Mike Smith said the lack of activity by any company in New Zealand's potential oil fields - the cessation caused by a slump in international oil prices and a rapidly swelling shift to alternative energy - has only temporarily taken the heat off Northland.

"Unlike a lot of oil companies who are retrenching, Statoil does not seem to be sitting on its hands," Mr Smith said. "Statoil has not packed up and gone home."

The Norwegian government majority owned company, which funds a superannuation scheme among other welfare benefits, has recently hooked up with American company Chevron as a partner in exploration off the East Coast, he said.

Mr Smith, who last year visited Norway to meet the indigenous Sami people and protest at Statoil's annual meeting, said Statoil would be welcome in Northland if it came here wanting to explore renewable technology.

"We've told them, 'If you want to come here with wind generation and solar power we'd welcome you and help you'."

Statoil is the largest gas and oil explorer in Norway and has interests in 40 countries, but is taking a hit from the oil price drop and is investing heavily in alternative energy, such as solar and wind generated power. One in three new cars in Norway are electric and oil consumption has drastically reduced, Mr Smith said.

Statoil, in conjunction with NIWA vessel Tangaroa, recently carried out seismic surveying in the New Caledonian Basin but that was not part of the Reinga permits Statoil has picked up since 2010.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Simon Boxer said in the past month there was not a single petroleum company searching for oil in New Zealand using exploratory drilling. Mr Boxer said that "extraordinary" news must be of concern for the Government which has continued to push an oil agenda despite oil never being found offshore.

He said oil producing or drilling countries, including Norway and its giant company Statoil, were investing heavily in a clean energy alternatives such as geo and hydrothermal.

"New Zealand is already rich with natural renewable resources, we're just not investing in them. Let's hope this oil failure is enough to knock some sense into our so-called leaders."

- Northern Advocate

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