Tamarind Resources' subsidiary Tamarind Taranaki went into voluntary administration in November blaming a "number of commercial factors," and then went into liquidation in December owing hundreds of millions of dollars to contractors and creditors.
Through its subsidiary, Tamarind Taranaki, Tamarind Resources operated the offshore Tui Oilfield. However, the field now lies unproductive and awaits decommissioning.
Costs associated with decommissioning are expected to be laid at the feet of taxpayers. There is no ballpark figure on what this could cost, but some estimates expect this to cost in the tens of millions of dollars.
Today environmental activist group Greenpeace painted an unflattering picture of the oil and gas sector in New Zealand, saying it had become "common practice" for explorers and producers to operate through subsidiaries to avoid paying decommissioning costs and avoid liabilities.
"Tamarind's failure to clean up its mess off the coast of Taranaki is not doing the industry any favours," Greenpeace NZ climate and energy campaign director Amanda Larsson said in a statement.
Larsson warned industry that Tamarind's mess would "further cement opposition to oil and gas developments in New Zealand."
The environmental group today called on the New Zealand government to introduce a guarantee, such as a new levy or decommissioning bond, to ensure situations like Tamarind's do not occur again.
"The government must urgently update the regulatory regime for oil and gas in New Zealand," Larsson said.
"Most New Zealanders would see it as a bare minimum that companies are required to cover the cost of cleaning up after themselves."
Greenpeace has also taken aim at Tamarind Resources for its other operations in the country.
Tamarind Resources, through another subsidiary called Tamarind New Zealand Onshore, owns and operates the Cheal field.
Last month Tamarind Resources said it had begun a comprehensive workover of the field.
"Most New Zealanders would agree that if Tamarind is still operating [the Cheal field] it should be required to cover the cost of decommissioning its offshore infrastructure," Larsson said.
"In terms of public opinion, Tamarind are on very shaky ground by claiming that they have no responsibility in this matter now that their subsidiary has gone bankrupt."
The environmental group is also demanding the government introduce new bans.
"The New Zealand government made the decision to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration permits in 2018, due to growing public concern about the industry's impact on climate change," Larsson said.
"This ban should be extended to new onshore operations and a plan put in place to phase out existing oil and gas operations in a manner that sets workers up for employment in other sectors."
When BW Offshore began demobilising its vessel last month, the NZ Environmental Protection Authority served the company six abatement notices, ordering it to cease decommissioning its vessel from the site as it would leave oil pipelines and underwater infrastructure on the seabed.
Tamarind Resources holds several other interests outside of New Zealand, including the Galoc Oil Field in the Palawan Basin offshore the Phillipines.
It sold its interest in Perth-based Triangle Energy last year.