24 Sep 2012

Oil drilling gets Dunedin business backing

8:33 pm on 24 September 2012

More than 150 Dunedin businesses have publicly backed plans by an international oil company to test drill off the Otago coast.

The statement comes during a visit by six executives of the American oil giant Anadarko in preparation for putting down one or two exploration wells about 60 kilometres off Oamaru late next year.

The prospect of the first test drilling off Otago's coast since 2006 is dividing Dunedin, and on Monday businesses took out a newspaper advertisement to show their support for the oil company's plans.

The Otago Chamber of Commerce, 156 companies and seven city councillors placed a two-page ad in the Otago Daily Times which Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said was about rolling out the red carpet.

"We just want to make sure that (Anadarko) know that businesses here are is friendly and we are very supportive of what they're doing. If they're looking for a base, we're very keen for Dunedin to be that base."

Mr McIntyre said not every business supports the drilling plans, but the overwhelming majority do, and with more time the chamber could have got hundreds more to back the advertisement.

The companies that backed the advertisement include engineering firms, lawyers, a funeral parlour and two golfing stores.

Whiley Golf president Andrew Whiley says the city needs the jobs the oil industry could bring.

He says he supported the ad because Anadarko's plans would make Dunedin a service base.

"A thousand new jobs would be created in Dunedin. You find me an industry that wouldn't benefit. Schools would benefit; hospitals would benefit. There's people coming off jobs."

Mr Whiley says the risk of a serious oil spill has been overstated.