Anadarko delays NZ deep-sea drilling
Anadarko say they will start deep-sea drilling in New Zealand at the end of 2013
The Texan oil company planning controversial deep-sea drilling off the coast of New Zealand has announced it is delaying plans by at least one year.
Anadarko, which was involved in the Deep Water Horizon disaster off the Gulf of Mexico, have plans to drill off the coast of Taranaki and in the Canterbury Basin.
It wants to drill down to the same depths as the Deepwater Horizon well - which burst and gushed out a massive 627,000 tonnes of oil into the sea.
Drilling was expected to start later this year. But those plans have now been put on the back burner and delayed until the summer of 2013 - in an announcement made to Anadarko investors.
It is now the second summer in a row the company has delayed its drilling plans in New Zealand.
A spokesperson from Anadarko’s New Zealand operations says they planned to start drilling in the summer of 2011/12 but had not been able to find a suitable rig for the "harsh environment" of New Zealand's waters.
It had the same problem with "a lack of a suitable rig" for this summer 2012/13 so had decided to delay again.
However, Anadarko told 3 News they had now signed a contract to build a "state of the art rig" in time for their new timeframe.
The spokesman says there was a possibility Anadarko's rig could also be used in partnership with Shell, which has the permit to drill in the Great Southern Basin.
Energy Minister Phil Heatley says he had no advice that Anadarko's delay could impact on other deep-sea drilling projects off New Zealand's coast.
The decision comes as the National Government embarks on what 3 News political reporter Patrick Gower has described as a "charm offensive" about the merits of petroleum exploration.
Anadarko have a permit to drill until 2016.
Greenpeace, which has rigorously campaigned against deep-sea oil drilling in New Zealand, are hailing the delay.
Its climate campaigner Simon Boxer says Anadarko’s continued delays send a strong message to the Government to abandon its support of oil exploration.
He says there is no truth in Anadarko’s argument that they cannot find a suitable rig.
“That’s rubbish. If they wanted to be here, they would be. The company has contracted numerous rigs for exploration around the world,” he says.
Asked if he believed it was a setback for oil exploration in New Zealand, Mr Heatley said he did not believe so.
"It is our expectation that they will be drilling here."
Prime Minister John Key secretly met with Anadarko boss James Hackett during the election campaign in November last year to discuss deep sea drilling in New Zealand.