Date ArticleType
3/9/2018 Member News
Climate Justice Group Settles Advertising Complaint Against Oil and Gas Body Pepanz

Climate Justice Group Settles Advertising Complaint Against Oil and Gas Body Pepanz

Helen Harvey
March 9, 2018

Environmentalists have caused an oil and gas body to change some of the wording on its website after complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was "misleading and deceptive".

Climate Justice Taranaki complained about a description of seismic surveys for oil and gas on the website of the Petroleum and Production Association of New Zealand (Pepanz).

Pepanz's website originally said seismic surveys on land were conducted by trucks using vibrating plates.

It did not mention that explosives were involved, Climate Justice Taranaki researcher Catherine Cheung said.

Climate Justice also took issue with the description of offshore seismic surveying on the Pepanz website.

It used to say there was no evidence that seismic and normal operations had harmed marine species.

But Climate Justice said Pepanz had overstated the scientific acceptance of the technology, was inaccurate and its claims were unsubstantiated by evidence. 

Pepanz argued the information wasn't an advert, but in its summary the ASA complaints board said the website met the definition of advertisement because "it promoted the interest of the advertiser, in this case the petroleum exploration and production industry".

As a result Pepanz decided to change the wording.

It now says there is no "clear" evidence exploration activities in normal operating circumstances have "permanently" harmed marine mammal species.  

Cheung said Pepanz changing its wording was a good outcome.

"Knowing it is advertising we don't expect them to tell the negative impacts from seismic surveying, but it's a bit clearer now."

She said the website "never said anything about explosives.

"But we know in Taranaki almost all seismic surveys done on land have been using explosives." 

Cheung said research by Taranaki Energy Watch showed not all of the explosives were detonated and some were too dangerous to be removed. 

"They're still dangerous if they're left in the ground and the farmer can't use that piece of land for years because it's quarantined. It's a serious issue, but there was no mention of explosives at all. That's not on." 

In an emailed statement, Pepanz chief executive Cameron Madgwick said the association was pleased the ASA had accepted the updated wording on its websites.

"It confirms that seismic surveys are a normal, safe method of research used by scientists in different fields. In particular the ASA accepted our evidence that there has never been any confirmed permanent harm to marine mammals from seismic surveys, despite decades of research."

Pepanz was surprised the ASA considered its website an advertisement, because it wasn't a commercial company selling any product or service, but they were always working to keep it up-to-date and accurate, he said.

"Overall the decision on jurisdiction should be a worry to certain environmental lobby groups who have often stretched the truth in their own campaigns."

 - Stuff