‘A bit of a backdown’ on oil and gas exploration annoys Greens

It appears that the government has backed off a bit on it’s contentious ban on new oil and gas exploration, which was applauded by environmentalists and slammed by Taranaki business interests in particular. Is has been pointed out that it could lead to higher carbon emissions as more alternatives were sourced from overseas.

Hamish Rutherford (Stuff):  Symbolic backdown undermines Government’s untidy oil move

After all the hype, the Government’s troubled path to ending new oil exploration has a bizarre sting in the tail: a bit of a backdown.

In the hours before she announced a law change to give effect to decisions announced in April, which mean no new offshore permits, Energy Minister Megan Woods met with the industry to deliver a piece of good news.

Oil explorers facing deadlines on their permits to either commit to exploration wells or relinquish the permits – referred to as “drill or drop” – are likely to be given more breathing space.

It seems the deadline to drill could be pushed back for years, although Woods has not given details other than that she will consider giving more time on a case-by-case basis.

In terms of concessions, it looks like no big deal, given the Government is changing the legislation that frames the sector. No-one in the industry will celebrate this as a victory, given the overall impact of the moves by the Government.

But it seems like Woods is trying to head off a potentially major “what if?” headache.

As it stands, the Barque prospect off the coast of Oamaru will be lost forever if New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) does not find partners willing to commit to the major cost of drilling, by early 2019.

Although the odds of success are put at only one in five, NZOG has claimed that, if successful, Barque could transform New Zealand’s energy outlook, with thousands of jobs and tens of billions of revenue.

Seen this way, Woods’ gesture to the industry looks like a major contradiction of the Government’s plan, to set New Zealand on a renewable future.

Reality wins over idealism?

Greens are not happy.

Both Greenpeace and the Green Party are furious, with the Government’s partners warning it waters down the moves made so far.

Given where we have come from, the latest move should be no surprise.

On a sunny day in March, Ardern walked down the steps of Parliament to greet Greenpeace activists, delivering a major shock that the Government was “actively considering” their call to end oil exploration. Although her speech was more symbol than substance, it was clear major plans were afoot.

As it turned out, the Government was not really considering anything, and it certainly did not want much in the way of advice.

Less than a month later, Ardern would lead a group of ministers into the Beehive theatrette to announce the decision, giving the impression that ministers had considered the matter.

In fact, all that had happened was that the leaders of Labour, NZ First and the Greens had reached a deal. Cabinet had no input in the decision.

Officials were so furious at being sidelined from the decision that it was leaked, spoiling Ardern’s plan for a dramatic announcement at Victoria University.

Greenpeace and the Green Party furious. Officials furious. Officials furious. It looks like this was rushed and bungled.

It should be remembered that this advice comes from bureaucrats who have not only been ignored in the actual decision-making, they are giving advice on a decision that could kill the sector they work in.

Seizing on the fact that – as in all long-term forecasting – the report on the oil exploration decision outlines a vast range of possibilities of the cost (from a few hundred million to more than $50 billion), Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters dismissed it as a “very, very bad piece of analytical work”.

It is fair to say that the official advice offers no accurate guide as to what the fiscal cost of the decision would be.

Given that we do not know the future for carbon prices, oil prices or interest rates, there is no way we could possibly know what that cost would be, a fact which seems lost on Peters.

What we do know is that there will be a cost, and it will likely be significant.

We also know that the way it was handled has had a significant impact on investor confidence in New Zealand, which seems to have dawned on the Government only months later.

It is also likely to have an impact on energy prices, both from the cost of gas to households and its impact on future electricity prices.

Woods said on Monday that, even with the benefit of hindsight and advice, she would still push for exactly the same decision.

Of course, she would say that. But it seems the Government has decided to breathe a little more life into oil exploration, just in case.

Green Party: Minister must not water down oil and gas decision

Green Party: Minister Woods must not water down decision to ban offshore oil and gas exploration

The Green Party does not support Labour Party Minister Woods allowing mining companies with existing offshore oil and gas exploration permits more time to consider if they will drill.

“Mining companies with existing licenses for drilling have a time limit on when they can explore. If they reach the time limit, their permits are handed back to the Crown”, Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

They shouldn’t be offered special treatment to extend or waive that time limit.

“I struggle to see the point in banning offshore exploration for oil and gas if existing companies with huge blocks can hold off from exploring until way later down the track.

“New Zealand took an incredibly exciting and brave step for people and planet when we decided to ban future offshore oil and gas exploration.

“It has been congratulated world-wide and New Zealanders are proud of the decision, let’s not water it down.

“I am urging her to reconsider this proposal”.

Remember Gareth Hughes? I’m not sure how much clout he has. He is till an MP but is far from prominent.

 

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47 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  September 26, 2018

    Thank God the girls are letting poor Gareth talk about something at last.

    Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  September 26, 2018

    He has a double constraint in that he not only has to ruin the female gauntlet of the Greens but needs reassurance from his mate “Clint”.

    I really don’t know what the Greens are worried about the exploration permits. It is the mining licenses that are the kicker for production.

    I guess the Greens are worried that if (probably a when) a big recoverable oil reserve is located it might tempt future government into providing better services for it’s citizens ( Like Denmark has done).

    Reply
  3. robertguyton

     /  September 26, 2018

    Playing the ball, team?
    Pffffffft
    I suspect the males who make snide remarks about the Green male MPs being “mummy’s boys” or whatever (high humour that, btw!) are jealous; jealous that James and Gareth get to hang out with self-assured young women, like Golriz and Chloe (to name but 2). My guess is, the detractors here are … not young and attractive themselves and, like arthritic old bulls, horns worn down to useless nubs, puffing and wheezing with frustration at the good fortune and happy state of the young’s, are filled to the limit of their old hides, with envy 🙂

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 26, 2018

      I dunno about the others but sometimes I just like to wind you up & see what happens. 😉

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 26, 2018

      as an aside is ‘old mans beard’ a pressing problem down your way…Bob?

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  September 26, 2018

        Hey, Gazza; I to that “wind up” thing too! Old Man’s Beard, the plant, isn’t an issue down here; there’s a bit of it in some areas but nothing concerning in the way Nelson, for example is concerned and smothered. I’m growing an old man’s beard myself, and that too is not to much of a problem for the moment, but becoming more difficult to manage as time goes by. Apparently theres a moth that keeps Old Man’s Beard in check…

        Reply
    • Ray

       /  September 26, 2018

      So Robert rather than try to explain how the Greens are feeling about the latest slap down by the Coalition attacks some straw men who apparently are past it and have the hots for young attractive Green girls, are you allowed to have such a sexist thoughts Robert if you are a real greeny.
      So how do you feel about the ground being cut from under Greens?

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  September 26, 2018

        I was just attending to some petty nonsense here, Ray, not avoiding the issue. As to “the ground being cut out”, it may or may not have been, and in any case, I’m not the slightest surprised. The oil industry doesn’t roll over, easily or otherwise. I don’t expect de-oiling to be easy, entirely successful or pretty. This “shift” is par for the course. If I got upset by every iteration of the programme to stop oil’s contribution to a degrading climate, I’d be a nervous wreck and I’m not that, nor do I intend to get in a twist over this detail. The Green MPs can do that on my behalf.
        And Ray, Green “girls”? Really?

        Reply
  4. PartisanZ

     /  September 26, 2018

    Nowadays I expect most policy and legislation to have a hearty measure of ‘spin’ in the mix … The prime example being Labour’s ‘Claytons’ Medicinal Cannabis Amendment Bill … so this Oilocracy thing … or whatever it is … is no surprise at all …

    It’s not about “reality strikes” or anything like that … They all knew and know the reality …

    It’s ultimately ONLY about the wriggle-room allowed by Corporate-Political elites …

    The Oiligarchy have ‘cocked the gun’ and their wholey-owned subsidiary government has had a bit of a rethink …

    The Green’s shares, it might be said, haven’t been completely “bought up” yet?

    Reply
  5. admiralvonspee

     /  September 26, 2018

    Meanwhile in the UK…

    Global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said it was the largest conventional gas discovery in UK waters since Culzean in 2008 in the North Sea. A trillion cubic feet of gas equates to 176 million barrels of oil equivalent.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-45625287

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  September 26, 2018

      The world won’t need ours then.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  September 26, 2018

        Until there is trouble and the price trebles. I’ll have to burn down your trees to keep warm.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  September 26, 2018

          I’ll grow extra for you, artcroft. Probably cut them down though – burning them down would be wasteful and you’d only end up with ash to put in your wood burner. Not much warmth in that.

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  September 26, 2018

          what trees?
          The forests have all been sold off to foreign pension funds who…export them as raw logs…you can of course burn the furniture they are turned into when we …buy them back.

          Reply
  6. Corky

     /  September 26, 2018

    Scam >idealism > confusion > semi backdown> coalition angst > billions in revenue lost > Greenies bitching > jobs lost, windmills and tofu.

    Can anyone say this bullshit is moving New Zealand in the future?

    Is there a remedy?

    Yes! 2020.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 26, 2018

      never fear Corky…’we’re on the cusp of something…special’ and have been for…years!

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  September 26, 2018

        Eh?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  September 26, 2018

          Fear not.

          Remember …

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  September 26, 2018

            Oh, yes. Grist for the mill. I must say, I would watch my back if I was you. That grist looks mighty like 1080 pellets.😃

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2018

              No worries. I’m neutral on 1080. There’s arguments both ways.

            • Corky

               /  September 26, 2018

              True..it’s a pity both sides don’t see that.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 26, 2018

              Gazza, doesn’t being “neutral on 1080” render you irrelevant in any discussion on the toxin? Wouldn’t it be wise to find a position on it and build a case one way or the other? You’ll end up sounding like Peter Dunne if you sit on every fence.

            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2018

              Gazza, doesn’t being “neutral on 1080” render you irrelevant in any discussion on the toxin?
              Yes – you may not have noticed but I haven’t got involved in it.

              Wouldn’t it be wise to find a position on it and build a case one way or the other?
              Not when all I wanted to do was post a grist-feeding machine.

              You’ll end up sounding like Peter Dunne if you sit on every fence.
              He’ll end up sounding like a Vienna Boys’ Chorister if he sits on a picket one.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 26, 2018

              Yes, I notice you don’t join the 1080 fray. Nor do I, although I do hold a firm position. That said, I listen to and think about all aspects of it (it’s a live issue for me, not a neutral one) Much of what is said is true, in its way and some “truths” counter others – not render them false, but reposition them in importance, Imo. My position on 1080 has wandered across the spectrum as I have narrowed down my final view; I began with a submission in opposition to a planned drop in a valley I was charged with caring for, swung to supporting the Parliamentary Commissioner’s view that it was the best tool for conservation of native biodiversity, because I respected all of her other work, especially that on coal and climate change, but now I’ve dug deeper into my philosophical self and settled on what I think will be my persistent view. I don’t mock or attack either side for their views, though am a bit intolerant of their intolerance of each other 🙂

            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2018

              I think both trapping/shooting and 1080 drops are needed at present robert, depending on the areas we’re trying to save. I wish 1080 wasn’t needed & I like to think it won’t be at some point in the future.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 26, 2018

              You reckon “predator-free NZ” is a real possibility, Gezza?
              I don’t. It’s like wishing for a predator-free planet – just stupid, in my view.

            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2018

              No I don’t think predator-free is realistic, but it might be possible to manage predators better with substantially reduced numbers.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 26, 2018

              Guess that means 1080 from here to eternity…

            • Gezza

               /  September 26, 2018

              Guess that means 1080 from here to eternity…
              Who knows what other solutions may pop up.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 26, 2018

              Hmmm…satellites shooting rats with laser-beams…
              Better still, an entirely new way of thinking about the environment – that’s my mission.

  7. artcroft

     /  September 26, 2018

    Labour: Phone 0800 NO IDEA.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 26, 2018

      Hello, Jacinda here. I’m sorry but it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to engage you in discussion. But I do have your number. Ring tomorrow.😃

      Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  September 26, 2018

      Jacinda: Arty is it? You rang … (prolonged pause) … Sucker!

      The very idea that elected politicians have NO IDEA, put forward by non-politicians who obviously believe that if they were politicians they’d have EVERY IDEA … is beyond absurd …

      The ban on new exploration came about for a reason … not no reason … and this ‘modification’ of it has come about for another equally abiding reason …

      I suspect threat from the Oiligarchy and oil-dependent Corporate-Political elites … but who really knows what goes on behind the scenes where government is actually run …

      Reply
  8. David

     /  September 26, 2018

    Trade deficits are going to get uglier and uglier not to mention security issues of not having our own supply.
    “The leading contributor to the monthly rise in imports was petroleum and products, up 50 per cent, or $186 million, to $563 million. The increase was led by crude oil, up $98 million, and diesel, up $73 million.”

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  September 26, 2018

      Climate change is going to get uglier if we continue to extract oil and gas from where it’s safely sequestered now. Fact.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 26, 2018

      don’t believe that ..b/s.

      Reply
  9. wooden goat

     /  September 26, 2018

    The “backdown” will make no difference.
    No-one in the oil industry will touch New Zealand with a barge-pole now.
    The political situation here adds far too much extra risk to what is already a risky industry.

    Reply
  10. robertguyton

     /  September 26, 2018

    “I’ve said before that coalition parties get to dig their heels in against their partners without doing significant damage to the relationship, and so have to pick their battles. This is the battle the Greens should pick. Climate change is destroying the planet, destroying the future of your children and grandchildren. Ending our addiction to fossil fuels is critical to preventing that (or, more honestly, mitigating it, because our feckless, greedy parents have already fucked us). This fight is what the Greens stand for, so they need to put their foot down: say no, and threaten to withdraw confidence and supply if the government extends a single permit. It will burn their political capital with the government for the term. But for this issue, for the future, it will be worth it.” I/S

    Reply
  1. ‘A bit of a backdown’ on oil and gas exploration annoys Greens — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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