Oil company seeks to drill off coast

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If a seismic survey shows trapped hydro-carbons off the coast of Oamaru, it could transform the local economy, says New Zealand Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight.

NZOG are currently working towards joining the permit which Australian company Beach Energy currently has.

Mr Knight has spent some time visiting various groups and communities to discuss their plans.

Once on the permit, NZOG would take over the operation.

Mr Knight said NZOG hope to undertake a seismic survey about 40 kilometres off Oamaru’s coast.

“We have been talking to a range of people,” he said.

That included local iwi, environmental groups and businesses.

“We generally get a mixed view,” he said.

“People are often excited about the opportunities it can bring.”

Mr Knight said it could transform the local economy.

“What a lovely place [Oamaru] to bring money to,” he said.

Waitaki District Mayor Alex Familton said exploration of the area made good sense.

“I believe the community, at local authority level must be involved,” he said.

Mr Familton also said it is important for locals to get royalties and bonds, to ensure they get a share in the activity.

He said it was important to understand the risks, possible affects and the drilling process itself.

Mr Knight said people naturally have their concerns, regarding safety.

NZOG was set up in 1981.

Mr Knight said they were aware of oil and gases being present in the area, due to the seeps washing up along the coast.

“What we don’t know is whether the hydro-carbons have been trapped,” he said.

“It’s all very well they are produced but they need to be trapped.”

Mr Knight said there is a one in nine success rate in finding trapped hydro-carbons in the survey.

He said they hope to be on the permit and undertaking the survey by next year.

“There could be some things happening for Oamaru,” he said.

Beach Energy were unable to comment by the time the Oamaru Mail went to print, last night.

By Jessie Waite