20 Apr 2011

No plans to bring new well-cap technology to NZ

7:35 am on 20 April 2011

The oil industy says it has no intention of bringing the latest well-capping technology to New Zealand, despite plans to drill in deeper waters than ever before.

The Petroleum Exploration Production Association says the technology has been developed since the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year, but a beach clean-up is the only possible response to a major spill.

Executive officer John Pfahlert says there has been no suggestion that the new gear should be used in this country.

Acting Energy Minister Hekia Parata won't say whether new well-capping technology will be required under new ocean-drilling rules.

Marine ecologist Lyndon DeVantier says it seems almost criminally negligent not to insist the equipment is based here, given New Zealand's earthquake risk, rough seas and deepwater drilling ambitions.

There were two small spills from the Maari field off the Taranaki coast last November - one drifted south onto Kapiti Coast beaches.

Up to 33,000 litres of crude from the Tui field washed up along 13km of the Okato coast, three and a half years ago.