Increase in oil and gas exploration

While the Government has said they won’t issue any more oil or gas exploration permits and existing permits can still be used. With oil prices increasing there could be an increase in exploration in the short term.

Stuff: Rise in oil and gas exploration activity in Taranaki by early 2019

A flurry of oil and gas exploration is set to be unleashed in Taranaki during the next 18 to 36 months as companies make decisions on whether to ‘drill or drop’ existing permits.

The schedule will see as many as 20 wells being drilled both onshore and offshore in the region before early 2019 as the price of oil steadily rises, to US$80 from below US$40 two years ago.

A Petroleum Exploration and Production Association New Zealand (PEPANZ) spokesman said a decision would be made on a total of 31 exploration permits to be completed in Taranaki, as well as off the east coast of both the North and South Islands over the next three years.

Todd Energy is well underway with preparations to begin drilling and hydraulic fracturing six new wells at the Mangahewa G site, north Taranaki, in late 2018. Contractors are finishing off laying the 4.5 kilometre gas pipeline from the site to the Mangahewa production station in preparation for the wells being drilled and fractured.

The drilling and fracturing phase of the programme could see employment for up to 150 people.

OMV, which recently acquired Shell New Zealand assets, is planning to drill nine offshore exploration wells during the 2019/2020 summer across six permits in the Taranaki Basin.

The permits, granted to the company under the Crown Minerals Act, have a number of time-dependent exploration commitments and if successful further appraisal drilling, the step before production, would be considered, the PEPANZ spokesman said.

It takes a lot of time and money to get from permit to production, but the existing permits may become more valuable if no more are issued.

Cunliffe and Hughes wrong on public ‘muzzling’

David Cunliffe and Gareth Hughes are wrong on claims of public “muzzling” over new non-notified consent regulations for off-shore exploratory drilling.

Envirinment Minister Amy Adams announced new regulations on Thursday. The public cannot oppose this drilling via the consents process – see Non-notified consents for exploratory drilling confirmed – but this doesn’t change how it was.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has attacked this in a statement Govt rides rough shod over democratic rights but makes misleading or false claims.

The Government has today revealed its true contempt for democratic rights by ploughing on with plans to override Parliamentary majority and gag local communities, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

Kiwis also lose their rights to have a say on exploratory drilling off their local beaches under new rules coming into effect today.

“This is an outrage and the latest from a Government which continues to chip away at democracy.”

“The muzzling of local communities concerned about oil exploration shows the Government has once against backed the interests of multinational corporations over the rights of ordinary New Zealanders.

“New Zealanders have a right to a say in what happens in their oceans.

“A Labour government will make sure deep sea drilling consents are subject to full transparency and require international best practice.

“Off their local beaches” is emotive and inaccurate, the drilling this summer has been 60-100 km away from the beaches.

Kiwis have not lost any rights and have not been muzzled. Amy Adams:

But in terms of it being non-notified, well the public has no say on them now and never has had,  and so you know I think that’s left out of this debate. People are talking as if the ability to feed in this is removed.

There has never been a process for the public to have their say on exploratory drilling, and there’s never been a process for  any regulator oversight.

She says there has been no change to public having a say in the consents process, they’ve never had any say. I’ve seen nolthing that contradicts this claim.

And the public have not been muzzled, they can still speak and protest as much as they like.

“The non-notified discretionary classification is the pragmatic option for exploratory drilling, and will provide a level of regulation proportionate to its effects,” Ms Adams says.

“The classification will provide effective oversight and environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs and timeframes.”

The Government has put in place formal processes, oversight and safeguards. It could be argued that this doesn’t go far enough, but it’s an improvement on what we had, which was described by Radio New Zealand:

Until now the drilling has been in a grey zone regulations-wise.

So the new regulations for exploratory drilling are better than we had and make no change to the public having a say.

Is this good enough?

We aren’t having this debate because of the rhetoric and false claims of opposing politicians like Cunliffe.

Green MP Gareth Hughes also criticised the change in regulation and oversight (but no change in public input) in New oil drilling regulations muzzle New Zealanders:

“The Government legislated to stop people voicing their opposition at sea, and now they are locking them out on land,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

National are intent on eliminating New Zealanders even having a say,” said Mr Hughes.

“I am deeply concerned this will mean that the public will not get any say at all on extremely controversial proposals,” said Mr Hughes.

Greens don’t want just the public to “have a say”-

“The Government shouldn’t allow companies to risk our environment and economy with exploratory deep sea drilling in New Zealand’s waters.”

– they want no offshore drilling at all. For Greens the public “having a say” means giving the Greens and Greenpeace more opportunity to protest and delay and stop drilling.

Non-notified consents for exploratory drilling confirmed

Environment Minister Amy Adams has announced new non-notified consent regulations for off-shore exploratory drilling. This means that the public cannot oppose this drilling via the consents process.

Protest groups claim this is a removal of rights of the public to have a say, but Adams says the public never had a say and this changes puts better regulations and oversight in place.

New regulations for exploratory drilling

Activities involved in exploratory drilling for oil and gas will be classified as non-notified discretionary under new EEZ Act regulations, Environment Minister Amy Adams announced today.

“The non-notified discretionary classification is the pragmatic option for exploratory drilling, and will provide a level of regulation proportionate to its effects,” Ms Adams says.

“This is part of the National-led Government’s overhaul of the laws and regulations governing the oil and gas industry.

“The classification will provide effective oversight and environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs and timeframes.”

Radio NZ used an odd headline in their report on this – New rule reinforces public’s lack of say:

New regulations mean that the public will not be able to have a say on applications to explore for oil and gas in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Similar negative spin was put on this by 3 News Kiwis ‘muzzled’ by oil drilling regulation and lead with protesters.

The government’s decision to exempt deep sea oil drilling applications from public resource consent hearings will muzzle New Zealanders who are concerned about the risks of a spill, the Green Party says.

And Greenpeace is accusing ministers of a being “little more than lackeys for the oil industry”.

The public were never able to have any say. It could more accurately be said these changes improves regulatory oversight.

Radio NZ:

Until now the drilling, which includes deep sea exploring that sparked ocean going protests from Cape Reinga to Dunedin, has been in a grey zone regulations-wise.

But now the Environmental Protection Agency will get to approve any applications and does not need to consult the public at all.

The public were never had to be consulted.

The public will only get a say if an oil company goes on to want to produce oil or gas.

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the EPA will have the power to scrutinise any application for exploratory drilling on the sea bed or continental shelf.

Amy Adams:

Now what that means is of course is that the regulator will have for the first time the full ability to consider the proposal, consider the location, the safeguards put in place around it, the methods of operation, and any effect it could have on ?? interests, and have the full discretion to say yes or no to that proposal, and also to put any conditions on it that are needed.

But in terms of it being non-notified, well the public has no say on them now and never has had,  and so you know I think that’s left out of this debate. People are talking as if the ability to feed in this is removed.

There has never been a process for the public to have their say on exploratory drilling, and there’s never been a process for  any regulator oversight.

Now we say that’s not good enough, and actually we want there to be very full robust consideration of the proposal, but the reality is that every day around New Zealand we have regulators in all sorts of fields making any number of decisions, the vast majority of which are not full public processes that are made by the regulators on the application in front of them and their own expert analysis of it.

It’s far the minority of times where there are processes that need to go through that full public debate.

RNZ: “Amy Adams insists the public can put it’s trust in the Environmental Protection Authority to limit the risks.

Adams: I know the EPA are going through a huge effort to ensure that they provide a very very robust and careful analysis. 

And yes there are risks in these proposals, but the best information I have seen suggests that risk is well under one percent, probably in the order of 0.2%  chance of there being a loss of control event, and the reality is that’s far less than the risk of the sort of activities like flying claims and the like that we have our regulators sign off all the time, and we don’t suggest that there should be a full public process on, you know, civil aviation consideration of whether the planes are fit to fly and the like, because it really is, the important thing is the proper technical consideration of the management of that risk.

Public consultation is often used as a means of opposing and trying to prevent controversial things from happening.

There are groups that oppose all off-shore drilling and if public consultation was allowed they would be likely to use any and all means to delay and prevent anything from happening. That’s what they are really complaining about.

Multiple failures on Anadarko

It has been reported that Anadarko are plugging their test well in the Taranaki Basin. They found some oil and gas but didn’t consider the finds commercially viable.  Stuff reports:

Texan oil company Anadarko says it has found no commercially viable oil or gas in its deep-sea well in the Taranaki Basin.

“It’s a disappointment, but this is by far the most frequent outcome in exploratory drilling,” Anadarko New Zealand’s corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said.

So nothing abnormal about that.

But Karol blogs at The Standard:

So, the whole big plan for the Key-led NZ Inc, has just become a bit of a fizzer.

“In terms of the drilling operation, the ship performed above and beyond expectations,” Seay said.

So great endeavor by the ship, a big fail for NZ’s economic and energy policy.

Perhaps Karol didn’t read everything she quoted. All of New Zealand’s economic and energy policy did not ride on the results of one test well. In fact Karol acknowledges this:

So, undeterred, Anadarko is going for more fail in the Canterbury basin.

Where Shell have said there is a 30% change of a commercial gas find – they expect only one in three test wells to be successful.

So an apparent failure by Karol to understand the oil/gas industry. But it’s not just (Green supporter) Karol. Gareth Hughes’ in ‘Deep sea drilling is not our future.‘ :

The National Government has been rolling out the red carpet to the oil and gas industry, but rather than picking a winner, it has picked a loser and New Zealanders are worse off for it.

To make sure that New Zealanders have good jobs, the Government should turn around the manufacturing crisis, which has seen 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost since National came to power.

There is no manufacturing crisis. Greens and Labour tried to manufacture a ‘crisis’ but that failed, it has been dis-proven by optimistic reports from the manufacturing sector.

And there’s more failure:

National’s big economic “strategy” for the past six years has been to gamble on finding oil. As part of their bet they’ve sold our right to protest to foreign oil companies and played Russian roulette with our beaches. And now that gamble has failed.

So that’s National’s entire economic plan gone. They had one idea to boost economic growth (I’m not going to say “raise living standards” because that includes clean beaches), and it has failed. What are they going to do now? Pray for a pot of gold to fall out of the sky? Oh wait, that’s what they were already doing…

Anadarko are moving on the test drill in another part of our economic zone.

Shell have announced plans to test drill.

Tag Oil are investigating in the east of the North Island.

One non-commercial well does not a make it a total failure for exploration, and it’s absurd to claim it’s a failure for our economic policy.

No Right Turn:

There are cleaner ways to earn a living than polluting the oceans and baking a planet. And we desperately need a government which will pursue them. National seems incapable of it. Time to toss them out and get someone better.

No surprise that it’s political.

Everyone wants more clean energy, and cleaner energy (ironically gas is cleaner energy than oil and especially coal but the Green team are against everything that comes out of the ground).

But the Greens have failed to provide any convincing evidence of what grand clean energy possibilities there are apart from pie in the sky predictions.

Alternative energies are still mostly very expensive compared to fossil fuels. That’s why they are not taking the world by storm.

One Anadarko well has failed.

The whole Green alternative has failed to materialise into anything credible.

It’s certain we will still need substantially amounts of fossil fuels for some time if we want to sustain a New Zealand that most people want.

If Green energy alternatives suddenly become economically viable then great, we should go for them. But in the meantime we have to go with what we’ve got and push for a transition that won’t destroy our economy.

 

Dunedin oil/gas support and opposition

In any debate with politics involved there are usually claims designed to deceive and mislead. In an attempt to get a neutral-ish count of people supporting or opposing gas exploration in Dunedin I have set up three posts at Your Dunedin:

If you want to register support, opposition or undecideness please add your name.

Oil opponents overstating support

There’s no doubt there is sizeable opposition to oil and gas exploration around New Zealand and off the Otago coast – they are campaigns with close connections to experienced opposers the Green Party and Greenpeace – but opponents are overstating their support. Talking up their support to the media follows similar tactics of previous campaigns using deliberate misinformation.

There are some actual numbers:

  • The Oil Free Otago Facebook page has 431 followers accumulated since 2 June 2013.  In comparison Pro Oil and Gas Otago started a Facebook page on Friday (10/01/2014) and 658 followers. These are rough indicators but neither are accurate measures of support as they can easily be stacked, and both have likes from around the country.
  • The ODT report that Campaign against oil drilling launched on Friday was “attended by about a dozen people”.
  • The Hands Off Our Harbour – National Deep Sea Drilling Protest at Port Chalmers yesterday (Sunday 12/02/14) – a flotilla blockade that was hindered by bad weather – was reported on ODT as “More than 250 protesters”.

The plastic flotilla of the Oil Free protest, Port Chalmers 12/01/2014

A Stuff report on Sunday claimed many more would attend the flotilla – Dunedin divided over deep-sea oil drilling.

Dunedin is split over the benefits of deep sea oil drilling, as 750 activists plan a blockade of Otago Harbour’s commercial shipping channel today.

One of the organisers, Niamh O’Flynn, has a history of exaggerating support for her campaigns, and yestarday was no exception in Newstalk ZB Otago residents angered by Shell plans:

“People are feeling like, we had 7000 people out on the beaches, we had overwhelming support for the Oil Free Seas flotilla, overwhelming support for this conference, and the Government and Shell suddenly announce that they’re going to do even more drilling than we originally thought.”

“Overwhelming” is overstating. They have significant support but they also have significant opposition.

A report on the flotilla protest Anti oil drilling protesters gather in Dunedin:

Heavy rain and strong wind hasn’t stopped hundreds of people turning up to vent their frustrations at the offshore drilling by Shell and Anadarko.

Oil Free Otago says the strong turn out in the freezing conditions shows Dunedinites don’t want offshore drilling in their backyard.

Language like “shows Dunedinites don’t want offshore drilling” is typical and misleading. Some Dunedinites don’t want exploration. Some do. Some don’t care.

Politicians have also claimed support that is dubious or they won’t (and can’t) substantiate.

Dunedin City Councillor Jinty MacTavish on her Facebook page:

Over 87% of submitters to a recent consultation we held on oil and gas exploration, told us they didn’t support it off our coast. If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion, it suggests our city collectively opposes the activity.

But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base…

Submissions are often part of organised campaigns, they can in no way be taken as a measure of public support and certainly can’t be claimed as suggesting “our city collectively opposes“.

I challenged Cr MacTavish on this and she responded:

 I qualified my statements above by saying things like “If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion…”

She must know it is not an accurate reflection of public opinion. If she didn’t she does now.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei also makes a sweeping claim on Facebook, commenting on Oil Free Future Summit Registration 2014 she said:

Definitely going and supporting, a much needed chance for us all to send a message that deep sea oil drilling is NOT WELCOME in Dunedin.

I challenged her on this and she didn’t respond, although some of her supporters said she spoke for them. And attacked me, bizarrely I was attacked and accused, for example:

Desi Liversage Obviously Pete, you are the spokesperson for business. You and the ODT.

While I don’t speak for them there are people in business who support exploration and there are other people who support getting gas exploration support business in Dunedin.

And the ODT speaks (with various voices and opinions) for more Dunedin and Otago people than the Green Party and anti-oil activists.

Opinion on gas exploration is mixed. There is strong opposition but there is no indication this is from anything other than a minority of anti-activists and the Green Party, both experienced on campaigning and talking up their levels of support.

The only way of determining levels of support and opposition of Dunedin and Otago people is by measuring it. Unless that is done grandiose claims of major or universal opposition should be treated with suspicion.

Mayor and councillor aligned on oil ethics

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish has been promoting classifying the oil industry as “unethical” alongside the tobacco and armaments industries. Mayor Dave Cull has used similar terminology.

MacTavish on her Facebook page:

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?

(Water erodes the livelihoods of, causes misery for millions of people. Is supplying water unethical?)

I’m curious to hear your perspectives, folks. The Waipori Fund is designed to provide a dividend to Council, to offset rates. It’s currently not invested in tobacco or armaments, presumably because the fund manager considered these unethical. Personally, I question the ethics of $1.7M of it being invested in fossil fuel companies. Council will be considering whether we need to adopt some formal ethical investment guidelines for the Fund, later in the month. What, if anything, do you think Council should be avoiding investments in?

Dave Cull interviewed on One News – Dunedin invests $1.7m in oil companies:

Up to this point the policy has been that the treasury company can invest in a number of things including oil companies, there are probably a number of things, the parameters off the top of my head would not allow them to invest in, for example armaments or tobacco or whatever, but up to this point that’s been the policy.

Are these comparisons, or are Cull and MacTavish working together on this?

“Up to this point” is presumably a reference to the ethics of investments being under review.

MacTavish seems keen on making investments in oil and gas banned as unethical.

But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base, feels to me as unethical as it does stupid**. If Council is in the business of wooing multinational coorperations to set up shop in Dunedin (which seems a questionably approach to economic development anyway) we could at least choose one that enhanced our brand and city offering, rather than detracting from it.

In my view, Council investments (whether staff time or cash), should be informed by its community’s views on what it’s right and ethical to be involved in. Thanks to submissions made to last year’s Annual Plan, we’ll be considering a ethical investment guidelines for the Waipori Fund in a few weeks time (will keep you posted on that). Perhaps there’s merit in considering extending those guidelines to cover other areas of Council investment (like staff time).

She is also proposing that any council involvement in oil and gas be ruled out as unethical.

How involved with this strategy is mayor Cull? Is there a wider plan to exclude any involvement with oil and gas?

Turei on offshore exploration

Green co-leader Metiria Turei makes here position on offshore exploration clear on Facebook, commenting on Oil Free Future Summit Registration 2014 she said:

Definitely going and supporting, a much needed chance for us all to send a message that deep sea oil drilling is NOT WELCOME in Dunedin.

I asked her “Who are you speaking for? I think you’ll find that there is a wide range of opinions and there is quite a bit of support for business opportunities and jobs from drilling in Dunedin.”

Two people indicated she spoke for them. Turei didn’t respond directly but added a general comment:

Well, as much as I like to keep my opinions to myself… I am quite disgusted with the oil industry attempt to divide and rule both within Dunedin/Otago and between Otago and Southland.

According to the ODT, they haven’t decided which Southern city is most deserving of their economic largesse, Dunedin or Invercargill. We have to compete for their financial affections apparently. I am aware of a couple of finger gestures that would indicate an appropriate response…

That’s a curious angle. There is very divided opinion on whether exploration should happen or not but I don’t think that’s driven by the oil industry, it’s driven by an anti-oil lobby, a pro-business lobby and a general wish for more jobs in Dunedin and Otago.

A two fingered salute from Greens isn’t surprising, but they don’t speak for all of Dunedin or all of Otago. From feedback I’ve had a few two fingered salutes are being returned.

An ‘Anadarko – Wish You Weren’t Here’ campaign was launched in Dunedin yesterday. It was attended by Green energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes – and about eleven other people according to an ODT report – Campaign against oil drilling launched.

That small ‘not welcome’ message was only from a small part of Dunedin, with a political import.

More on unethical oil and gas

Following her suggestion that the oil and gas industry was unethical (likening it to tobacco and munitions – see Oil and gas unethical?) Dunedin Councillor Jinty MacTavish has been asked on Facebook:

“Presumably you are going to take a principled stand and boycott all the products of the oil and gas industry as you believe they are unethical?”

She responded:

I personally don’t own a private motor vehicle – I ride, walk and bus as much as I possibly can – and I take other measures to reduce my carbon emissions as far as practicable.

Yes, because of the society we live in and the systems our society has built over time, all of us rely on fossil fuels to some extent or another, and I’m no different. I’m super aware of that, and it’s entirely possible I will look back in 10 years time and wish I’d taken steps to further reduce my carbon consumption.

An option that’s available to me would be to try to avoid any part of our society that uses fossil fuels…but making that call would mean I couldn’t contribute much to changing the system!

For me, it’s not about judging people for their use of fossil fuels, it’s about acknowledging that we’re all in this boat together, and that we collectively need to be moving away from damaging fuel sources.

In my view, it’s a challenge for our whole society, and we need a society-wide response – to change this to the extent that we possibly can, to avoid the misery that would be associated with climate change over 2 degrees of warming.

I’m not perfect, I don’t claim to be – but I don’t think that makes additional fossil fuel exploration a more sensible or ethical thing to be investing ratepayers’ resources in.

That acknowledges the reality of the pervasiveness of oil use in our society.

It also appears to soften her stance on “unethical” in relation to oil and gas, moving from an absolute to a more towards a relative level of ethics – but it’s not clear what that’s relative to.

Yesterday I asked Cr Mactavish:

“If Dunedin could secure enough business and economic benefits from gas drilling and recovery off our coast to enable us to invest in much better energy efficiency and alternatives to oil/gas powered transport, thereby enabling a significant reduction in fossil fuel use, what would your position be on it?”

She hasn’t responded yet.

Oil and gas unethical?

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish suggests oil and gas is unethical, and she wants council guidelines that rule out using staff time or resources on anything deemed to be unethical.

Hello Dunedin! I’m keen for some feedback here.

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?*

Over 87% of submitters to a recent consultation we held on oil and gas exploration, told us they didn’t support it off our coast. If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion, it suggests our city collectively opposes the activity. In that context, how comfortable would our citizens be with the Council actively seeking to maximise financial gain from that same activity?

Council could seek to do this in two ways:-
1. Using staff time or resources, or investing in infrastructure to help ensure Dunedin becomes the base of choice for oil companies.
2. To continue to seek distribution of royalties (the money the O&G companies pay the government) more locally.

Councillors’ views of the approaches were canvassed by the ODT yesterday, and some of the feedback they got is in today’s article – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/287660/oil-gas-base-host-race

To me, advocating for the second feels like a more ethical approach than the first. It is the Government that is imposing this on the regions – it’s not a choice that the regions have made. Therefore advocating for what is in effect compensation from the Government for their actions, feels like a reasonably ethical stance. But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base, feels to me as unethical as it does stupid**. If Council is in the business of wooing multinational coorperations to set up shop in Dunedin (which seems a questionably approach to economic development anyway) we could at least choose one that enhanced our brand and city offering, rather than detracting from it.

In my view, Council investments (whether staff time or cash), should be informed by its community’s views on what it’s right and ethical to be involved in. Thanks to submissions made to last year’s Annual Plan, we’ll be considering a ethical investment guidelines for the Waipori Fund in a few weeks time (will keep you posted on that). Perhaps there’s merit in considering extending those guidelines to cover other areas of Council investment (like staff time).

I’d welcome your thoughts…

I welcome thoughts on this too.

Is using oil and gas unethical? Or just oil and gas recovered in New Zealand?

Sourced from Facebook: Councillor Jinty MacTavish