“Dropping like flies”: Anadarko the latest company to cull search for oil in NZ
Friday, December 9: Texan oil giant Anadarko is the latest to join the growing list of companies to scale back or completely quit their
search for oil in New Zealand.
Subscription-only industry publication, Energy News, has reported that Anadarko will surrender two major permits that allow it to search for oil in Pegasus Basin over an
area of 7,085 square-kilometres off the Kaikoura and Wellington Coasts.
Anadarko has been the focus of years of protest by thousands of New Zealanders, Greenpeace, anti-oil groups and iwi.
These protests sparked the controversial “Anadarko Amendment” in 2013, specifically designed to stop protest at sea
against oil ships.
Anadarko is the only company to actually do exploratory drilling in the deep sea since the Key Government’s oil program
began, and it’s yet to find anything. Having quit its Deepwater Taranaki permit and now the two Pegasus permits,
Anadarko retains partial interest in two remaining permits PEP 55377 in the New Caledonia basin and PEP 38264 in the
The move comes hot on the heels of Norwegian petroleum company, Statoil, announcing the withdrawal of 90% of its New
Zealand assets. The sudden move follows years of pressure and protest from Greenpeace and Northern iwi.
Their partial withdrawal came after the complete exit in previous years of two other drillers from New Zealand –
Petrobras and ExxonMobil.
Australian media has also reported that New Zealand’s biggest oil company, Shell, is preparing to sell its entire
portfolio here, which includes oil exploration and production assets.
It was hailed a major international victory when Shell pulled its oil drilling plans in the Arctic last year, after
massive public pressure that included a global petition with more than seven million signatures.
Greenpeace spokesperson Steve Abel said Anadarko’s Pegasus Basin withdrawal is just another example that the
Government’s oil drilling agenda in dire straights.
“They’re dropping like flies,” he says. “One of the supposed-cornerstones of this Government’s economic strategy is its
oil program, but it is totally failing with no new oil found in eight years of searching.
“With the change of Prime Minister, the Government should quit this mad oil program once and for all. We’re calling on
soon-to-be new Prime Minister Bill English to face the planetary climate emergency and listen to iwi, public and local
government opposition, and ditch deep sea drilling now.”
In the last month Auckland Council, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Dunedin Council and Gisborne
Council voted to oppose offshore oil prospecting, exploration and drilling.
Hawke’s Bay region is currently considering a ban on drilling and Kaikoura Councils have also historically opposed
Abel says Greenpeace is focused on the arrival of the world’s biggest seismic ship which recently began blasting in New
The 125-metre long ship, the Amazon Warrior, is owned by the world’s largest oilfield services company, Schlumberger,
and is currently seismic blasting for oil between Napier and Kaikoura, an area inhabited by thousands of whales and
“This ship has been actively avoiding going into port because it knows it will face huge resistance and protest,” he
“It’s even gone to such lengths as to break maritime safety law and switch off transmission from its AIS tracking
device, presumably so that peaceful protestors can’t find it.”
An unprecedented alliance of Maori communities have voiced opposition to deep water drilling on the East Coast. Almost
70 Maori hapū from Cape Runaway to Kaikoura have called on Statoil and Chevron to cease their operations and leave New
Zealand. Over 6,000 New Zealanders have signed on to the letter
Abel says the Amazon Warrior “can run but it can’t hide”.
“Our message to the Government and the oil industry is this: The ocean isn’t as big as it may seem. We will show New
Zealanders exactly how you are blasting our marine environment and causing distress to our unique whales and dolphins -
all in the name of climate-wrecking oil - and we will peacefully resist you until you leave our waters”