A controversial oil drilling company has had its appeal against an injunction to stop a controversial drilling project in the Cook Islands blocked.
Key points:A jury found in favour of the company against the injunction from the Government’s oceans and oceans protection programThe case centres on the proposed Shell Oil drilling platform near the Cooks IslandsThe appeal court found in Shell’s favourThe court ordered a hearing to be held next week to consider whether the company could appealThe company’s lawyer, Simon Mancuso, argued Shell’s drilling platform would have been located far more offshore than it was, and would have had no environmental impact.
The court found Shell had not complied with environmental laws in the area, which included a marine life advisory panel that was not consulted.
It said Shell was a “significant risk to the marine life and ecosystems of the Cook River Basin”, which had been designated a Marine Park by the Government.
“The Government has determined that Shell’s exploration activities in the South Pacific would be a major risk to all of the species and ecosystems living in the waters and marine environment of the South Cook Islands,” the court said.
“Shell’s proposed drilling platform, which is located on a disputed and highly sensitive area, would have a significant environmental impact on the Cook Basin and the Cook Strait.”
Shell is seeking to drill a 300-metre-deep well in the heart of the area.
The case also centres on Shell’s proposed Shell Offshore Oil (ROI) drilling platform in the Coral Sea, which would have drilled a 300 metre deep well.
The appeal judge said the court had “serious doubts” about Shell’s “scientific and technical” claims and was of the view the company had “no credible scientific basis to claim that the potential impacts of drilling in this area would have an environmental impact”.
The judge said Shell’s claims that it had no scientific basis for the well were “highly questionable”.
“It is not known whether Shell has a scientific basis or if it is simply not possible to prove the existence of a well and its environmental impacts,” he said.
Shell is appealing against a decision by the Court of Appeal to allow the case to proceed, with Mr Mancoso arguing the appeal should be heard by a lower court.
Shell’s drilling technology would have used an oil slick that would have made it “virtually impossible to determine the depth and composition of the oil slick” and could have caused significant “substantial damage to marine life” if it was not treated properly, the appeal court said in its ruling.
The company is currently operating a “drill and convert” technology to recover oil from rock formations in the Gulf of Carpentaria.