24 Jun 2019

Claims rig company favouring foreign workers over New Zealanders

1:13 pm on 24 June 2019

A New Zealander who spent 18 years working in a senior position on oil rigs says he and others, were snubbed and foreign workers favoured for jobs in Taranaki.

A drilling rig commissioned by oil giant OMV arrives in New Zealand to drill 12 exploratory drilling wells off the coast of Taranaki. Credit: Geoff Reid

The COSL Prospector rig Photo: Supplied / Greenpeace / Geoff Reid

Immigration New Zealand has granted applications for 66 roles on the Taranaki oil rig owned by the Norwegian company COSL.

Thomas, who does not want his surname used, applied for a role as a tool pusher on the rig and said he was told by email, following his interview, that more experienced New Zealanders had been preferred.

He then found out that other experienced colleagues did not even receive an interview, and very few New Zealanders got senior roles.

"I had friends who were absolutely experienced and qualified, working right now in deep water with the cyber dynamic positioned rigs, with the semi submersible experience they asked for, every attribute they asked for, much more than they asked for but they ignored them."

He believes the process was rigged.

"They never wanted what they asked for, that was a duplicitous, underhanded, fraudulent, game they were playing to get visas. That's what it was all about."

Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said there are concerns with the hiring process.

"The fact that people didn't even get an interview, despite having quite a lot of experience in this sector, I think raises red flags."

Gareth Hughes has written to the Minister for Immigration asking for a review.

In a statement Immigration New Zealand confirmed that visas had been granted for up to 66 roles and that as part of the AIP (Approval in Principle) there was a requirement to train and promote New Zealanders.

It also says as part of the application, COSL Offshore Management must make genuine attempts to source a suitably qualified New Zealand citizen or resident replacement before utilising a contingency position under this AIP.

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand chief executive Cameron Madgwick also made a statement, saying the majority of workers on the rig were New Zealanders and the number would increase.

"Currently there are 65 COSL employees on the rig with only 14 of these expat employees," he said.

"Ultimately there will be around 130 people working in two shifts on the rig and 102 of these will be New Zealand locals or Australian based. Of these 102 - approximately 80 percent - are currently based in New Zealand.

"This will increase over time as COSL can phase out expat staff and bring in local staff once they are trained appropriately ... we can't comment on individuals who missed out on a role, but it is possible they were not suitable for the available positions."

RNZ has tried to contact COSL for comment.