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Can we risk a real spill?

Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, October 13th, 2011 - 30 comments
Categories: disaster, Mining - Tags: , ,

The Rena disaster has put the spotlight on the environmental risks of National’s deepsea oil drilling plans. Yes, they’re not the same thing. In fact, an oil spill from a drilling platform or one of the ships serving it is more likely than from a freighter plowing into a well-known reef.* And there’s a hell of a lot more oil involved.

Fancy taking a risk that size so that some foreign company can make monster profits selling a greenhouse gas producing good?

30 comments on “Can we risk a real spill? ”

  1. Richard Down South 1

    Pretty much sums up the situation with Deep Sea Drilling in New Zealand

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I’m pretty sure that the amount of oil which came up in the deep water horizon was more than that…let me look it up

    …OK assuming the deep water horizon spill was mostly light crude with only a little heavy crude, approx 700KT was estimated to have been spat out. Roughly 412x the weight of bunker oil the Rena was carrying.

  3. insider 3

    So is this just another case of nimbyism on a national scale? We’ll happily take the benefits but pass the risks offshore. That is part of the discussion, and like it or not, there are potentially huge upsides if there are commercially viable finds.

    • alex 3.1

      I’m sorry, but at this stage, who cares if there are potential commercial benefits? Will that offset the poisoning of our ocean, one of the most important natural resources we possess? The livelihoods of BOP fishermen have been completely blighted by this minor spill, what would happen if there was a major one? No more Terakihi for dinner, and no more jobs for fishermen. Besides, its massively irresponsible to put potential profits for foreign companies ahead of the ecological safety of our own country.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        insider knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

        And if it can’t make captitalists some money it must be worthless/useless.

    • Blighty 3.2

      I’m prefectly happy with not having a giant oil spill in my backyard. Especially if we don’t have the capacity to handle a relatively small one.

    • weka 3.3

      “So is this just another case of nimbyism on a national scale? We’ll happily take the benefits but pass the risks offshore. That is part of the discussion, and like it or not, there are potentially huge upsides if there are commercially viable finds.”

      Speak for yourself mate. I’m happy and willing to move to a post-(cheap) oil life and economy now.

    • Colonial Viper 3.4

      So is this just another case of nimbyism on a national scale? We’ll happily take the benefits but pass the risks offshore.

      That’s what everyone else does to us.

      New Zealand lets just stop being naive ok.

    • Steve 3.5

      You’re right, I think many people *would* happily take the benefits… if there weren’t a huge stack of risks undermining them. The way it is now, we take only 5% of the revenue any drilling would generate through royalties and if an accident does occur, we’re stuck with practically all of the responsibility to clean it up. This incident proves that New Zealand is woefully unprepared to deal with any kind of spill, let alone what could happen with a deep sea well blow out.

      • insider 3.5.1

        So let’s be consistent and take the worst case for everything and decide not to do stuff because of that.

        A volcano called Krakatoa erupted once with a really big bang and killed a lot of people; let’s evacuate Auckland and Taupo and Tauranga. There have been two major tsunamis in recent years; lets only live on hills. There was a big earthquake in Chch; let’s move out of most of NZ. The AMoco Cadiz went aground and spilled a lot of oil; let’s close our borders to all tankers.

        These are patently silly ideas, but so is a blanket ban on oil exploration.

        • felix

          This is no longer in the realm of weighing up the probability of a hypothetical oil spill vs the hypothetical advantages to be gained from deep water oil drilling.

          Oil spills are an inevitable consequence of drilling the stuff out and moving it around. It happens, that’s not in contention. The questions are how often and how big.

          John Key probably doesn’t realise just how central the sea, the beach and the coast is to our lifestyle here in NZ, but Kiwis can now see for themselves the result of a relatively small spill.

          Rationalise the probabilities all you like, but you won’t convince a single Kiwi to let him gamble with our beaches, our coastal environment, our playground, our foodstore, our wildlife and our very way of life. Not after this.

        • Blighty

          god, insider, get a grip. There’s well-understood processes for deciding when to do a potentially dangerous activity


          The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.

          This principle allows policy makers to make discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from taking a particular course or making a certain decision when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.

          In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement.”

          In this case, you could do deepsea drilling IF you could prove you had the ability to fix it if it goes wrong. Is that really too much to ask?

    • fmacskasy 3.6

      Yeah. But you’re not the one who’ll clean up the mess. Or compensate those who lose their incomes, as a result of an oil disaster like the Gulf of Mexico.

  4. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 4

    I heard that a man was once killed by a falling coconut. As I result, I refuse to visit Tonga.

  5. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5

    I haven’t drunk beer since the London Beer Flood of 1814:


    Just not worth the risk.

    • Blighty 5.1

      after the Deepwater disaster has proven the danger of deepsea drilling and the Rena disaster has shown that New Zealand lacks the capacity to contain even a relatively small oil spill – it’s just not sensible to do deepwater drilling without a much improved capacity to handle the consequences.

      What’s your alternative? Drill and pray?

      • insider 5.1.1

        It hasn’t proven it at all. It’s been well known for a long time. Ixotc happened in 1979. 3m bbl spilt. We still managed to successfully develop Maui B, Maari and Pohokura.

        • Blighty

          Maui B Maari, and Phokura are not in deep water.

          Deepwater Horizon showed an inability to reliably cap a burst deepwater well. Capping shallow water ones was already well understood.

        • lprent

          Gas, oil online 2009 after 4 years, and gas. So the only one that is oil (ie the issue that we’re discussing), has only just been developed and put into production.

          So simple minded diversion dribble when you start comparing oil with oil.

          The question that needs asking is what happens when the Maari well springs a leak. Do we wait for a few weeks to get equipment from offshore while oil globules go out and kill fisheries and coastlines? The current evidence is that is exactly what will happen.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

            simple minded diversion dribble

            Like saying that, because there was once an oil spill under no circumstances whatever should anyone ever drill for oil offshore? Ever.

            • fmacskasy

              No, Gormless.

              It means that we can barely cope with one piddly freighter.

              What makes you think we could hope to deal with deep sea oil gushing out into the waters, as happened last year in nthe Gulf of Mexico?

              Your willingness to risk other peoples’ lives and areas is so “big” of you. You (and a few others) are like cheerleaders for risky ventures that, when they go horribly wrong, melt away and never assume responsibility for anything.

              As with other neo-liberals, it’s someone elses’ fault/responsibility…

        • KJT

          Ah. You were not there.

    • Galeandra 5.2

      Yeah, but you’re likely to choke to death on crumbs, oily ones at that. I’d take beer any day.

    • fmacskasy 5.3

      You’re right. It’s too risky for you to drink beer. Or any intoxicant for that matter.

  6. TEA 6

    Drill and pray if you wish.
    Which is absolutely a silly idea, but so is a blanket ban on oil exploration.
    The Southern Basin oil tenement is a long way off the coast of Southland and if there was a spill Chile would more likely get any unwanted oil than the coast beaches in Otago or Canterbury. We could not even get a iceberg to come ashore at Dunedin and had to fly poor old Shrek out for his moment of glory on top of the passing iceberg to promote merino wool.
    The currents are to strong off the east coast of the south island.

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