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Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

Austrian oil giant OMV has announced that it’s indefinitely postponing its last remaining oil and gas exploration plans in the Taranaki Basin.

Greenpeace is claiming “a win of generational significance” that signals an end to offshore oil exploration in New Zealand.

OMV announced that a programme to drill exploratory wells in the Taranaki Basin has been postponed immediately amid the Covid crisis, and that it has no plans to bring a new rig to New Zealand.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the exit of OMV and its colossal exploration rig, the COSL Prospector, means the future of offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand is likely to have come to an end altogether.

“Following the departure of Petrobras, Anadarko, Equinor/Statoil, Chevron and others, OMV was the last major oil company searching for new oil and gas in New Zealand waters. It’s one of the only companies that still had the right to search for oil here after securing drill permits prior to the 2018 ban on new offshore oil exploration,” she says.

People show their opposition to deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters at the ‘banners on the beach’ event at Bethells beach. Similar events happened at about 45 North Island west coast beaches. © Greenpeace / Lisa Marshall

“Practically and economically it would make little sense for OMV to send another rig to New Zealand at any point in the future, especially with the collapse of the global oil price. Its exit now effectively spells the end to offshore oil exploration in New Zealand. This is a win of generational significance.”

OMV’s drilling programme in New Zealand has been badly beleaguered since its rig arrived in the country last year.

In November, nearly 30 protesters occupied OMV’s ‘henchboat’, the Skandi Atlantic, in the Port of Timaru for three days, delaying it from heading to a drill site. A week later, over a hundred people shut down OMV’s offices in New Plymouth for a further three days, before converting the building into the ‘Museum of Oil History’.