Oil and gas, let’s stick to the facts

FEW industries attract wider public debate than the oil and gas industry.

On the one hand, we use oil and gas products in almost every part of our daily lives. On the other hand, we are conscious of the need to protect our natural environment and respond to the enormous challenge of climate change.

It is not surprising, therefore, oil and gas exploration attracts strong views, and at times this debate can be driven by emotions and preconceived ideas, rather than facts.

So, let’s look at some facts.

Firstly, the economic benefits of New Zealand’s oil and gas sector are huge. The sector typically contributes $2.5 billion to the country’s GDP, earns $1.5 billion in exports and pays $600 million in royalties and income tax — money used to fund essential public services like hospitals, schools and police.

A major discovery would significantly increase the worth of the industry to the country and inject new life into our economy — look at Taranaki. Oil and gas is one of the key reasons Taranaki has the highest GDP per capita in the country, with the industry making up 40 percent of Taranaki’s economy.

Secondly, the safety record of oil and gas in New Zealand is second to none. There has not been a serious incident in the 150 years we have been operating in Taranaki. We are absolutely committed to protecting the environment and doing everything we can to minimise our impact. After all, our people also live in the communities where we operate.

Thirdly, there are virtually no environmental risks associated with a seismic survey. Seismic surveying has been conducted for decades around the world and involves a vessel sending out a soundwave towards the seabed. These soundwaves then bounce back to the vessel, providing valuable information on the geology of a region. The soundwave is not strong and is like many naturally-occurring sounds, around the same as that produced by the click of a bottlenose dolphin or sperm whale.

Every vessel has a number of independent observers to record all observations of marine mammals. The observers have the power to stop the survey if marine mammals get too close to the vessel.

Finally, whether we like it or not, consumption of oil and gas is going to increase over the next 25 years, driven by the emerging middle classes in Asia and India who want and deserve to enjoy the lifestyles we all do.

The challenge for all of us is how we meet this increasing demand for energy while at the same time meeting the challenge of climate change.

The fact is we are going to have to use more of all types of energy, but use it more efficiently. We will need to transition from fossil fuel such as coal to natural gas, which produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide. We will need to increase our renewable energy options and look at ways to capture and store carbon dioxide. We will also need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across society.

While we don’t know whether commercial quantities of oil and gas exist in the area, imagine the impact of a major discovery. It would mean billions of dollars of new investment, the creation of hundreds of highly skilled jobs, new businesses and invigorated towns. It would be nothing short of transformational.

New Zealanders are right to expect economic benefits of any industry are balanced with the need to protect our unique environment. We believe this can be done. We welcome a debate, but one that is based on fact. After all, this is the least the public deserves.

Let's stick to these facts instead

1. We've known for 200 years CO2 was a Green house gas. Frenchman Baptist Joseph Fourier first explained the phenomenon in 1816

2. Since then atmospheric concentrations of carbon di-oxide have risen from 280 parts per million to 400ppm and global temperatures and sea levels are rising at an alarming rate as well.

3. Last month 196 nations adopted the Marrakesh Action Proclamation reaffirming their COP22 commitment to all limit their GHG emissions.

4. Last year in Paris it was made quite clear that 75% of all known fossil fuel reserves must remain untouched for humanity to avoid the worst effects of climate change

5.This month our Gisborne District Council reaffirmed last year’s decision to oppose gas exploration off the East Coast.

Add to all that the numerous well supported protests and hikois during this decade here and in the BOP.

I, like Cameron Madgwick, of (PEPANZ) am consciousness of the need "To protect our natural environment and respond to the enormous challenge of climate".

Only I take the opposite view. Humanity must ditch fossil fuel (exploration and consumption) now, not search for more to further damage our environment and speed up climate change.

I add my voice to council and the multitude of concerned people in our district calling out.

No oil or gas exploration or drilling off our coast. Not in our seas, land, or anyone else's backyard either.

Bob Hughes

FEW industries attract wider public debate than the oil and gas industry.

On the one hand, we use oil and gas products in almost every part of our daily lives. On the other hand, we are conscious of the need to protect our natural environment and respond to the enormous challenge of climate change.

It is not surprising, therefore, oil and gas exploration attracts strong views, and at times this debate can be driven by emotions and preconceived ideas, rather than facts.

So, let’s look at some facts.

Firstly, the economic benefits of New Zealand’s oil and gas sector are huge. The sector typically contributes $2.5 billion to the country’s GDP, earns $1.5 billion in exports and pays $600 million in royalties and income tax — money used to fund essential public services like hospitals, schools and police.

A major discovery would significantly increase the worth of the industry to the country and inject new life into our economy — look at Taranaki. Oil and gas is one of the key reasons Taranaki has the highest GDP per capita in the country, with the industry making up 40 percent of Taranaki’s economy.

Secondly, the safety record of oil and gas in New Zealand is second to none. There has not been a serious incident in the 150 years we have been operating in Taranaki. We are absolutely committed to protecting the environment and doing everything we can to minimise our impact. After all, our people also live in the communities where we operate.

Thirdly, there are virtually no environmental risks associated with a seismic survey. Seismic surveying has been conducted for decades around the world and involves a vessel sending out a soundwave towards the seabed. These soundwaves then bounce back to the vessel, providing valuable information on the geology of a region. The soundwave is not strong and is like many naturally-occurring sounds, around the same as that produced by the click of a bottlenose dolphin or sperm whale.

Every vessel has a number of independent observers to record all observations of marine mammals. The observers have the power to stop the survey if marine mammals get too close to the vessel.

Finally, whether we like it or not, consumption of oil and gas is going to increase over the next 25 years, driven by the emerging middle classes in Asia and India who want and deserve to enjoy the lifestyles we all do.

The challenge for all of us is how we meet this increasing demand for energy while at the same time meeting the challenge of climate change.

The fact is we are going to have to use more of all types of energy, but use it more efficiently. We will need to transition from fossil fuel such as coal to natural gas, which produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide. We will need to increase our renewable energy options and look at ways to capture and store carbon dioxide. We will also need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across society.

While we don’t know whether commercial quantities of oil and gas exist in the area, imagine the impact of a major discovery. It would mean billions of dollars of new investment, the creation of hundreds of highly skilled jobs, new businesses and invigorated towns. It would be nothing short of transformational.

New Zealanders are right to expect economic benefits of any industry are balanced with the need to protect our unique environment. We believe this can be done. We welcome a debate, but one that is based on fact. After all, this is the least the public deserves.

Let's stick to these facts instead

1. We've known for 200 years CO2 was a Green house gas. Frenchman Baptist Joseph Fourier first explained the phenomenon in 1816

2. Since then atmospheric concentrations of carbon di-oxide have risen from 280 parts per million to 400ppm and global temperatures and sea levels are rising at an alarming rate as well.

3. Last month 196 nations adopted the Marrakesh Action Proclamation reaffirming their COP22 commitment to all limit their GHG emissions.

4. Last year in Paris it was made quite clear that 75% of all known fossil fuel reserves must remain untouched for humanity to avoid the worst effects of climate change

5.This month our Gisborne District Council reaffirmed last year’s decision to oppose gas exploration off the East Coast.

Add to all that the numerous well supported protests and hikois during this decade here and in the BOP.

I, like Cameron Madgwick, of (PEPANZ) am consciousness of the need "To protect our natural environment and respond to the enormous challenge of climate".

Only I take the opposite view. Humanity must ditch fossil fuel (exploration and consumption) now, not search for more to further damage our environment and speed up climate change.

I add my voice to council and the multitude of concerned people in our district calling out.

No oil or gas exploration or drilling off our coast. Not in our seas, land, or anyone else's backyard either.

Bob Hughes

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Donald Robson - 1 year ago
Cameron Madgwick, the PEPANZ CEO asks us to imagine what a transformational invigoration that a discovery of a large oil field off our coast will bring to our community. He points to the safety record of the oil and gas industry in New Zealand as a reason for us to feel comforted by their presence here. While that might compare well with say Nigeria, the surest way of having a perfect safety record is to not drill, and our local elected representatives have agreed to oppose exploration.

He then suggests that petroleum explorers are somehow concerned about the risks of climate change. Is that like a tobacco grower expressing interest in your problems with emphysema, but holding their hands up and proffessing innocence if the prognosis is bad? Inevitably, in this case.

Gas might be better than coal, but it merely skirts around the main issue. There are already way more proven petroleum reserves worldwide that will need to be written off oil company balance sheets than can be extracted to meet the Marrakesh accords and lots are much cheaper to extract than any thing here.

Thankfully Mr Madgwick's febrile imaginings of oil companies sharing their wealth with us should remain just that. Even if his company can convince an oil company to invest in infrastructure here, they would be on a hiding to nothing while the Saudi's hold down the price of oil, and Elon Musk invents the alternative.

So Mr Madgwick, if it's a social licence to operate that you are asking for, I think our council has given you a good indication, and that's a big fat no.

Daryl Sykes - 1 year ago
Not wanting to unduly impede infrastructure development that will support both regional and the national economies but it is incumbent on the proponents of oil and gas development to be accurate in their assessment of risks.
It is not correct that 'there are virtually no environmental risks' associated with seismic surveys. There is a body of research work - some recently published in Australia - which details negative impacts on shellfish and lobsters, for example.
The New Zealand rock lobster industry does have concerns over the cumulative impacts of seismic surveys on the strengths of juvenile lobster settlements, which are the future stock abundance available to commercial and non-commercial users.
In our view, the impacts can be ameliorated if there is close liaison between the survey companies and fisheries managers and stakeholder representatives but, again, the environmental impacts do represent a potentially significant risk to future abundance of rock lobsters along the east coast from North Cape to Cook Strait.

Martin Hanson - 1 year ago
Well said, Bob. Cameron Madgwick selects the facts he likes, while ignoring those he doesn't. As the novelist Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his [CEO] salary depends on his not understanding it"

Kingdonomics - 3 months ago
Fact: Paris is dead in the water. There's a new sheriff in town not beholden to foreign donors. #MAGA #MGGA Make Gisborne Great Again

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