Offshore Otago oil exploration versus climate change

A recent announcement that a large oil exploration programme is like to take place off the Otago coast is predictably controversial.

ODT (10 April):  Gas and oil exploration move off Otago coast

Austrian oil giant OMV has unveiled one of the most ambitious gas and oil drilling programmes proposed in New Zealand.

It plans possibly three exploration and seven follow-up appraisal wells off Otago’s coast in the Great South Basin.

The 10 oil and gas prospects are within a 100km-150km arc, southeast of Dunedin.

OMV has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority for a marine discharge consent to release contaminants to sea, the application being made public today.

“Depending on the outcomes of the exploration drilling, this could include up to three exploration wells and up to seven appraisal wells,” the company said.

The company also said if no indications of potentially commercial hydrocarbons were detected in the exploration wells, no appraisal wells would be drilled.

OMV will be looking for gas deposits and there is a likelihood of finding a small percentage of oil condensate; fine, light oil suitable for aviation fuel.

ODT (10 April): ‘Expect resistance’, oil company told

An Otago environmental group is telling Austrian oil giant OMV to “expect resistance”, should a deep-water oil rig appear off Otago’s coast.

The Dunedin City Council, which supports a ban on issuing new exploration permits, will be briefed by OMV at the end of the month.

Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden was aware OMV had applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to “discharge contaminants to sea”, a requirement before it could drill any prospects in the Great South Basin.

She had spoken “at length” with the EPA last week and understood the application covered a “tiny spill” of around 250ml and Oil Free Otago would not be opposing the application.

“Climate change is now in a crisis situation …we won’t sit by and let them continue their destructive business off our coast,” she said.

She cited Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull saying earlier in the week at a public forum on climate change he was proud of his council’s stance against oil exploration.

Mr Cull said the council did commit to supporting the moratorium on no new oil and gas exploration permits, but could “informally welcome” OMV’s latest interests in Otago.

However, when pressed about lobbying OMV to base itself in Dunedin, “council wouldn’t lobby them”.

“If there was to be a base and investment then council would have to vote,” he said.

He noted council had no role to play in non-notified marine consent applications.

ODT editorial:  Oil and gas versus climate change

For many, including those who participated in or encouraged last month’s climate change strike by school pupils, the news of Austrian oil giant OMV unveiling one of the most ambitious gas and oil drilling programmes proposed in New Zealand would have seemed like a late April Fool’s Day joke.

They may have asked how, if climate change is rapidly contributing to the end of the world, such a thing could still be considered appropriate. To others, news of a major international company investing significant sums to find whether true riches lie beneath the waters off the Dunedin coastline would have been enthusiastically received.

It isn’t fair to say the first group wants no economic development. Nor is it fair to say the second group doesn’t care about climate change. It does seem fair to suggest many New Zealanders are interpreting the climate change conversation in very different ways.

As much as many believe otherwise, the issue is still confusing.

Confusion, contradictions and complications abound on this topic and the divide between those who are ”all in” on climate change, and those who are yet to be convinced, is still broad.

It isn’t that there is a simple answer to any of this. The problem is that there are too many potential answers, and many seem unsure who to believe, who to follow. And, while they consider, they want reassurance the economy will remain buoyant.

Protests against oil and gas exploration are natural and healthy. But if the time has really come to move to a war-footing against climate change, we first need to be very clear about what the enemy is. For many New Zealanders, this country’s meagre fossil fuel consumption is unlikely to be considered the priority.

Oil-free is an unrealistic goal in the foreseeable future.

 

16 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  April 17, 2019

    Fancy that . Oil exploration continues.. Some claimed it was ‘killed off’
    Usual lies

    • Griff.

       /  April 17, 2019

      Kids telling them self’s scary stories. The ban of all oil drilling was always alarmist nonsense.

      I lost count of the number of times I pointed out the area of all existing exploration permits is still available for exploration and extraction. The already issued permits include the most likely regions to find new resources.

      Also often pushed from the same sources was the financial impact of the “Ban” on the Taranaki region.
      It is unlikely that Taranaki will be the center for any new finds so its oil based industry’s were always going to wind down as the existing fields run out.

      • Duker

         /  April 17, 2019

        yes. Its incredible the amount of dry holes drilled in Taranaki already. ( Future exploration will continue there) The big engineering companies in Taranaki mostly work on steel for buildings in the rest of NZ or Australian oil/gas infrastructure.

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 17, 2019

    Unless someone can make computers, phones and other such things of wood or hemp, we will need oil for a long time.

    • Duker

       /  April 17, 2019

      Making solid things from oil/natural gas like plastics is different from burning fossil fuels which produce CO2.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 17, 2019

        Of course, but try doing it without drilling.

    • Dennis Horne

       /  April 17, 2019

      The objective is to reduce GHG emissions. One pathway is is to cease burning fossil fuels, the production of which also releases methane. Use of fertiliser (made from natural gas via ammonia) has also increased release of nitrous oxide from soil microbes.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 17, 2019

        That depends on the fossil fuel’s consistency. Nobody could hate the stink, smoke and mess of coal fires more than I do, but if the coal is ground to a very fine powder, this doesn’t happen.

        • Duker

           /  April 17, 2019

          Sawdust pellets are good I hear…always wanted one but unrealistic so got heat pump instead then got another one for upstairs

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 17, 2019

            I have so many books that I have hardly any spare wall left. Last year I bought a radiant heater that uses 800 watts so effectively that half the time I don’t have it on full. It’s far better than a 2000 watt heater that I had.

            A real little luxury is a heater in the bathroom (my bathroom is very small)
            Bliss !

            I was very taken with a fireplace that I saw. It was in the wall, so was in the sittingroom and passage.

            • Duker

               /  April 18, 2019

              yes radiant heaters are OK for larger rooms that you only need to warm say one person in one part.
              However for me an efficient heat pump helps take the chill out of a larger room, where I have it at say 17C and wear warm clothes. It only uses about 150- 250W input to create 400W heat output once the room has warmed up, Radiant and oil heaters dont have that sort of low usage for higher output

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 18, 2019

              This one is excellent and so is the smaller one (they’re Goldair) I cannot believe how effective they are; money well spent. I can’t understand how 800 watts produces so much heat, unless it’s that they have excellent reflectors at the back.

              I knew people who had a heat pump in a small sittingroom and it became sweltering. I am vegetarian, but they were then on the only eating vegetables that can be eaten raw regime and were always cold. They’d have the car heater full blast in summer !

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 17, 2019

            I read that dryer lint stuffed into the cardboard centres of dunny rolls make great firestarters,

            That makes sense when one thinks how many house fires are begun by people not cleaning this out. I saw a house blazing near here because of that.

  3. Dennis Horne

     /  April 17, 2019

    Each exploratory well off Otago costs US$100 million. Could install and operate a dozen very large wind turbines for that kind of money.

    • Duker

       /  April 17, 2019

      OMV is an oil and gas company…they do this sort of thing as a tax deduction. ..beats giving it to the tax man back in Europe

  4. Dennis Horne

     /  April 17, 2019

    One sector we can change with no impact on the productive economy is transport. China has invested $90 billion in electric cars and has a $25 billion industry about to collapse.due to overproduction by nearly 500 manufacturers.

    I call on the prime minister to don overalls and a hard hat and buy in a job lot. Or better still, bring a company here…

    https://www.ecowatch.com/china-electic-vehicle-bubble-2634693976.html