Beach Energy’s plans for exploration in the Canterbury Basin
22 May 2020
Beach Energy Resources NZ (Holdings) Limited has applied for a consent to discharge trace amounts of harmful substances from the deck drains of a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU). Trace amounts of harmful substances are sometimes included in deck drainage when residual amounts remain on the decks after the clean-up of minor spills.
For more information on the proposed discharge of harmful substances from MODU deck drains please read section 3.2 of Beach Energy’s application, which you can find at the link below.
Public submissions on this application are open until Friday 6 July 2020.
Once submissions close, if any parties request to be heard, a public hearing will be held within 40 working days.
On 12 April 2018, the government announced its decision to ban new offshore exploration permits. The ban does not affect existing permits such as those held by Beach Energy.
Beach Energy is one of four consented operators carrying out oil and gas activity in the EEZ.
Beach Energy’s plans for exploration
Beach Energy is proposing to drill one initial exploration well as part of the Canterbury Basin Exploration and Appraisal Drilling Programme (EAD). Depending on results from this well, Beach Energy may pursue a wider work programme within Petroleum Exploration Permit (PEP) 38264 that could include up to 11 follow-up exploration or appraisal wells.
Appraisal wells are used to test how much oil or gas is present, and how far it goes down. This will allow Beach Energy to determine if it is worth applying for consents to proceed to production drilling and extract any oil and gas reserves.
This application relates only to the discharge of trace amounts of harmful substances from the deck drains of any MODU used for this drilling and any subsequent drilling if required. This application doesn’t include any other aspects of the drilling programme.
Beach Energy has applied for the period of the consent to last through to 7 November 2029.
Applications for production drilling
After completion of its exploration and appraisal drilling programme, if Beach Energy wishes to proceed to production drilling in the Canterbury Basin, it will need to make publicly-notified applications. A Minister for the Environment appointed Board of Inquiry will consider these.
Public submissions can be made on marine consent applications for the production phase of petroleum operations.
EPA's role in the EEZ
The Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf (EEZ) is a mapped area of ocean that extends from 12 to 20 nautical miles from New Zealand's coast. In our role as New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority, we make sure certain activities that take place within the EEZ follow the rules set out in New Zealand law.
The EPA does not make or write the rules; our role is written into the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) and associated regulations.
Under the EEZ Act, anyone wishing to carry out certain activities associated with oil and gas exploration and development offshore must apply to the EPA for marine consents for each stage of the development of an oilfield.
If a consent is granted, we monitor the operator’s compliance with the consent conditions, as well as with the EEZ Act and relevant regulations. The duration of a consent will vary depending on the activity.
Other key agencies involved
WorkSafe New Zealand
WorkSafe is responsible for the rules that ensure the risk of a well failure and associated hydrocarbon spill is as low as reasonably practicable. Beach Energy will need to submit a safety case that ensures a well will be managed through its life cycle, in relation to its design, construction, operation maintenance, modification, suspension and decommissioning. WorkSafe inspectors maintain regulatory oversight throughout the life cycle of an oil rig to ensure the operator is complying with its safety case.
Maritime New Zealand
In the unlikely event of a significant oil spill, Maritime New Zealand is the lead response agency. It is responsible for ensuring Beach Energy has plans in place to manage the waste from their work as well as emergency response plans if that work causes a leak or spill into the sea.
For oil and gas work, the emergency response plan needs to include how the operator would stem the flow of oil in the unlikely event of a well blowout. It is also responsible for maintaining New Zealand’s oil spill response capability and preparedness, and for coordinating any major, national-level oil spill responses.