7 Feb 2014

Dunedin must decide on drilling - MP

7:09 pm on 7 February 2014

An MP says it is time for Dunedin people to come out for or against offshore oil and gas drilling.

Anadarko's drill ship and a Greenpeace protest boat off Taranaki in November.

Anadarko's drill ship and a Greenpeace protest boat off Taranaki in November. Photo: GREENPEACE

A drilling ship from Texas-based company Anadarko has left Taranaki for the Otago coast. The Noble Bob Douglas is heading south after capping and abandoning an unsuccessful test well in the Taranaki Basin.

Three protest boats are preparing to head out on Saturday night to confront the ship at its next drilling site in the Canterbury Basin, 60km off Dunedin.

The National Party list MP for Dunedin, Michael Woodhouse, said on Friday that after three years of debate about the drilling programme, Dunedin is in danger of letting the big opportunity to host a future production base slip by.

Mr Woodhouse called for all Dunedin citizens to make their views known and speak very clearly about their support or otherwise.

Anadarko's New Zealand manager said the well in Taranaki has been safely plugged and abandoned. Alan Seay said the Noble Bob Douglas should be in place by early next week and would begin drilling after a few days of setting up.

Mr Seay said the company has always felt more optimistic about its prospects off Otago than Taranaki.

A spokesperson for the Oil Free Otago group, Niamh O'Flynn, said protesters are not planning to breach the drill ship's interference zone, but will make their opposition clear - no matter how far off shore it is operating.