The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New Zealand has conditionally approved oil and gas operator Tamarind Taranaki’s applications with regard to activities in the Tui Area Oil Field offshore Taranaki.

Last March, Tamarind submitted applications to the EPA for marine consent and marine discharge consent to perform development drilling activities in the Tui Field.

The marine consent was sought to drill additional sidetrack development wells from existing ones. This includes the associated logistical and environmental monitoring activities.

In addition, the application for marine discharge consent was submitted for processing drainage from deck drains aboard a drill rig.

“The EPA’s compliance team will take over the role of monitoring Tamarind’s activities to ensure it abides by the conditions of the consents.”

Environment minister David Parker appointed an independent board of inquiry consisting of chair David Hill, Glenice Paine, and Dan McClary to consider the applications.

As part of the conditions set by the board, Tamarind is required to mitigate potential adverse effects of the drilling and discharge activities.

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In its final decision, the board found that there would be minor adverse environmental effects except for relatively short and transient events.

It also found that the adversely affected benthic environment is expected to recover in a comparatively short time, and no known rare or endangered species will be affected.

EPA Climate, Land and Oceans Group general manager Siobhan Quayle said: “Pending any appeal, the EPA’s compliance team will take over the role of monitoring Tamarind’s activities to ensure it abides by the conditions of the consents.”

Responding to EPA’s decision, Tamarind said in a statement: “Tamarind expects to develop a further six – eight million barrels of oil as a result of this campaign, extending the life of the Tui Field into the mid-2020s.

The company will use the COSL Prospector rig for the drilling project, which is currently on target to commence in June with an expected duration of 110 days.