Dunedin mayor backs economic benefit of gas exploration

A surprise position from Dunedin mayor Dave Cull on the offshore gas exploration:

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme he personally favours the development of renewable fuels to combat climate change, but his council will try to maximise the economic benefit of the drilling.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/232761/dunedin-tipped-as-gas-exploration-base

Listen to Dave Cull on Summer Report

I and others tried to push him on this during the mayoral campaign and made sure it was a prominent issue. He tried to avoid it, he tried to appease both camps, and he flip flopped. He ended up sort of at this position but he wouldn’t clearly state it.

Good to see him back the economic benefits. It would have been very awkward for him to have opposed them today, with the announcement that Macraes mine to axe 106 jobs which is another blow to Dunedin and Otago employment.

And despite expected competition for the benefits:

Southland leaders such as South Port chief executive Mark O’Connor are celebrating the drilling plan but not expecting to benefit directly this time.

“It’s highly likely, depending on the final location they identify, that it may well be closer to Dunedin and therefore it makes sense to service that initial exploration project from Otago.”

This seems to signal that Dunedin is likely to get the most benefits.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead welcomed the news and echoed Mr McIntyre’s comments the city needed to make the best of the opportunity to show it could provide the required infrastructure.

”Port Otago has been in communication with Shell and its partners over the years. Again, there is a long lead-in period to this, so we are not getting overexcited.

“But we have the mix of a safe deepwater port and an engineering base in Dunedin. The mix of infrastructure and expertise in and around Dunedin would make the city the logical choice.”     

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/287558/dunedin-urged-show-it-can-support-shell

This all looks promising for Dunedin.

But it won’t be without significant protest. Radio NZ:

Anti-drilling protest

Anti-oil activists are running a protest summit this weekend in Dunedin, and a spokesperson for Oil Free Otago, Niamh O’Flynn, says Dunedin should be seeking jobs in cleaner, greener industries.

Ms O’Flynn said the protest will include a symbolic blockade of part of Otago Harbour. “We need to be standing our ground and saying ‘no we’re not having this industry here and and we need to be looking for jobs in sectors that are going to be long term and actually provide jobs for our people.”

A generally wary post  Shell and the Great South Basin bsrpout points out the positives alongside his (genuine and reasonable) concerns:

 If the industry is as successful as Taranaki, around 800 new jobs will be created. 

That would be significant in Otago (or Southland).

I wonder if they change their name to Gas Free Otago. Shell don’t expect to find oil.

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