Gordon Campbell of independent journalism’s Werewolf/Scoop has done us all a massive favour by writing Big Oil: Rigging the Game … a superb article on the issues associated with oil production off NZ’s East Coast.

He examines the international legal regime, or non-regime as the case may be, that applies to oil spills and accidents; the technical “state of the art” with respect to deep sea drilling; the regulatory and supervisory frameworks that are in place in “experienced” countries like Norway and the US; the lessons — legal, economic, environmental — of past oil disasters; the track record of Petrobras, which holds the NZ exploration rights; the difficulties of monitoring production volumes and associated royalty payments … and then applies all of this context to NZ’s meager institutional capability and policy framework to engage “Big Oil.”

It’s a sobering article, with dozens of links to authoritative articles, studies and sources the world over.

If you care to do any serious thinking about how or whether NZ should get into the deep-water oil drilling business, this article — journalism at its best — should be required reading.

Tom Belford

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