Oil prices drop to $0 and below

There has been a major drop in demand for oil, with airlines mostly grounded around the world, public and private transport greatly reduced due to lockdowns in many countries, and industrial use also reduced.

This has resulted in a drop of oil prices.

Reuters:  U.S. crude crashes below $0 for the first time in history

U.S. crude oil futures turned negative for the first time ever as billions of people stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus, causing a global supply glut that has led to storage space filling up.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, also slumped, but that contract was nowhere near as weak because more storage is available worldwide.

While U.S. oil prices are trading in negative territory for the first time ever, it is unclear whether that will trickle down to consumers, who typically see lower oil prices translate into cheaper gasoline at the pump.

As billions of people around the globe stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, physical demand for crude has dried up, creating a global supply glut.

Most prices in Dunedin currently range from $173.9 to $189.9 per litre for 91 and go as low as $100.9 for diesel.

Covid-19 up, markets down, down, down

The Covid-19 virus is getting worse in some places, especially Italy but it is also getting a hold in Spain.

And following a bad week on sharemarkets in the last two weeks there are even bigger drops this week, with the Dow Jones slumping.

At the same time oil prices have crashed by more than 20%.

The spread of the virus seems under control in New Zealand for now, but the economic effects are significant with Air New Zealand scaling back operations and many businesses under stress.

We may benefit from plunging oil prices, but our stock market (and Kiwisaver investments) is suffering, and it is likely to follow \world markets down and get worse today.

And problems around the world are much worse, especially currently in Italy where they are shutting down a lot of the country to try and stop the virus spreading.

Reuters: EU seeks to tackle coronavirus as Italy locks down north, prisoners riot

EU leaders will seek a coordinated response to the coronavirus after global markets plunged on Monday and Italy sealed off much of its industrial north, where six prisoners were killed in a riot over curbs on visits.

Joining the global rout, triggered by a 22% slump in oil prices, Wall Street’s main share indexes dropped 7% and the Dow Jones Industrials crashed 2,000 points – which would be its biggest ever one-day ever if there is no recovery by the close.

More than 110,000 people have been infected in 105 countries and territories, and 3,800 have died, the vast majority in mainland China, according to a Reuters tally.

With Italy’s economy already on the brink of recession, bars and restaurants in Lombardy were ordered to close or to restrict entry and maintain a distance of at least a meter between people on their premises.

Major sporting events in Italy, including top-flight Serie A football, will be played without spectators for a month.

This must have a major impact in the Italian economy. And the virus is spreading in Spain.

In Spain, schools were closed in the town of Labastida near Vitoria in the Basque country after nearly 150 cases of coronavirus were identified in the region.

Spain has reported 999 cases in all, most of them in two areas around Madrid and around Vitoria in the north. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said it had prepared an emergency plan to deal with the economic consequences of the virus.

It is improving in regions that were first hit.

China and South Korea, Asia’s second-worst-hit country, both reported a slowdown in new infections.

Mainland China, outside Hubei province, center of the outbreak, reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the second day on Monday, but a top Communist Party official warned people against dropping their guard.

South Korea reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 7,478, while the death toll rose by one to 51.

The New Zealand Government is rolling out economic measures.

Beehive: Cabinet approves Business Continuity Package in response to COVID-19

Cabinet today approved the development of a Business Continuity Package to help support the economy through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Business Continuity Package includes:

  • a targeted wage subsidy scheme for workers in the most adversely affected sectors.
  • training and re-deployment options for affected employees; and
  • working with banks on the potential for future working capital support for companies that face temporary credit constraints;

As part of the package:

  • The Treasury and IRD have been directed to develop tax policy options in line with the goal of reducing the impact for affected businesses, to support businesses to maintain operational continuity.
  • The Treasury and MSD have been directed to develop policy options to support households to maintain incomes and labour market attachment.

The detail of this package is now being worked through. It will be discussed again at the Cabinet COVID-19 committee on Wednesday, and the Government expects to be in a position to make further detailed announcements next week.

So a bit of dabbling so far.

“New Zealand is well-placed to respond to COVID-19. We have been running surpluses and our net debt position at 19.5% of GDP is well below what we inherited, and well below other countries,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

But if world markets crash they will drag us down, and that could have a major impact.

Newshub: BNZ becomes first major New Zealand bank to predict a recession

BNZ is now using the much-dreaded R-word, saying it’s more than likely there’ll be a recession this year.

“Everyone sort of panics when they hear the word recession,” BNZ head of research Stephen Toplis said. “It’s like the whole world’s going to fall in.

That may be happening now.

CNBC: Oil nosedives as Saudi Arabia and Russia set off ‘scorched earth’ price war

Oil prices fell through the floor in early trading Monday, tanking as much as 30% after Saudi Arabia slashed its crude prices for buyers. The kingdom is reportedly preparing to open the taps in an apparent retaliation for Russia’s unwillingness to cut its own output.

  • Oil prices are down nearly 50% for the year after OPEC+ talks collapsed and Saudi Arabia announced slashed prices in an apparent price war with Russia.
  • With previously agreed OPEC+ production cuts expiring at the end of March, Saudi Arabia and Russia can theoretically pump as much crude as they want.
  • An oil price war will have massive geopolitical consequences, pummeling markets already shaken by the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Reuters: Wall Street pounded by oil crash, virus fears

Wall Street’s main stock indexes plummeted about 5% on Monday, as a slump in oil prices and the rapid spread of the coronavirus amplified fears of a global recession on the anniversary of the U.S. stock market’s longest bull run.

The energy .SPNY index plunged 18.2% to its lowest level since August 2004 and crude prices were on track for their worst day in three decades as Saudi Arabia and Russia moved to significantly ramp up production after the collapse of a supply cut agreement. [O/R]

Companies listed on the S&P 500 have now lost more than $5 trillion in value in a sell-off sparked by fears that the coronavirus epidemic could tip the global economy into recession.

That report is out of date, Wall Street has got progressively worse through the day, with several trading haalts to try to pause the slide.

At 2:15 pm Monday in New York the Dow Jones is down 7.3% for the day.

The NZX already dropped 2.94% in Monday trading and will be affected by international markets today. All we can do is wait and see what happens.

And all the New Zealand Government can do is try to limit the damage here, but the may be chasing a bear.


Saudi Arabia, Iran, USA and oil

One of the world’s riskiest situations is developing in one of the most volatile regions of the world, the Middle East, after oil production facilities were bombed by drones. The US has blamed Iran. The US has close ties with Saudi Arabia.

Oil production has been affected, with prices surging following the attack (but settling back a bit since).

MSN: Saudis face lengthy oil halt with few options to fill gap

The oil market is facing a prolonged disruption to Saudi Arabia’s oil production with few options for replacing such huge output losses.

The weekend attacks on the kingdom eliminated about 5% of global oil supply — and raised the risk of more conflict in the region — propelling Brent crude to a record surge on Monday. Officials at state oil company Saudi Aramco have become less optimistic on the pace of output recovery, telling a senior foreign diplomat they face a “severe” disruption measured in weeks and months and informing some customers that October shipments will be delayed.

The historic price gain underscores the unprecedented nature of the disruption caused by the drone attack on the Abqaiq crude processing plant. For decades, Saudi Arabia has been the oil market’s great stabilizer, maintaining a large cushion of spare production capacity that can be tapped in emergencies, such as the 2011 war in Libya.

The halt of 5.7 million barrels day of the kingdom’s production — the worst sudden supply loss in history — exposes the inadequacy of the rest of the world’s supply buffer.

Petrol prices have already risen in New Zealand. I don’t know why that has happened so quickly, petrol in tanks here should be the same price as it was last week. Is there any other market that changes prices based on possible future cost rises?

ABC News:  U.S. intel shows cruise missiles fired at Saudi oil facility came from Iran, officials say

The attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated geographically from Iranian territory, with a series of low-altitude cruise missiles fired from at least one location in the western region of the country, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the latest intelligence.

The intelligence assessment draws a more clear link between the attack and Iran, and it could worsen tensions between Washington and Tehran.

U.S. officials are considering possible multilateral sanctions with allies against Iran as part of the response to the attacks…

The Department of Defense has advocated for restraint. But it has provided a briefing on military options to President Donald Trump, who over the weekend tweeted that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” and ready to respond, once it officially determined who was behind the attack.

Three U.S. officials previously told NBC News there was extremely compelling evidence showing the origination point of the strikes, and one official with direct knowledge described that evidence as imagery.

That’s image based imagery, not imaginary.

A Saudi military spokesman says initial investigations show Iranian weapons were used in the attack.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday no talks would take place between Iran and the U.S. “on any level…

Reuters: U.S. lawmakers blast Iran, wary of war, after Saudi oil attack

Members of the U.S. Congress blasted Iran after the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, but expressed wariness about U.S. military action, especially before they have a clearer picture of who was behind it.

President Donald Trump said the United States was “locked and loaded” to hit back after Saturday’s attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant.

Iran denied U.S. accusations it was to blame and said it was ready for “full-fledged war.”

U.S. lawmakers, especially Trump’s fellow Republicans, were quick to blame Tehran.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican majority leader, called it “a brazen attack” with significant implications for the global energy market and said he welcomed Trump’s preparation to potentially release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to stabilize markets if necessary.

Many lawmakers stressed that Congress, not the president, has the right to declare war and warned against any quick military action.

Trump may not be able to initiate quick military action on his own, but he is capable of escalating tensions and the prospects of war via Twitter.

Military action would likely put oil production and supply at even more risk.

Congress, with backing from both Republicans and Democrats, has passed – but Trump has vetoed – four bills seeking to push back against Trump’s strong support for the Saudi government, despite its human rights record and steep civilian casualties in the war in Yemen.

Trump and the US say nothing against Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemeni war – and supply the Saudis with arms.

Wikipedia:  2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal

On May 20, 2017, U.S. President Trump and Saudi Arabia’s Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a series of letters of intent for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase arms from the United States totaling US$110 billion immediately, and $350 billion over 10 years. The intended purchases include tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, as well as radar, communications and cybersecurity technology. The transfer was widely seen as a counterbalance against the influence of Iran in the region and a “significant” and “historic” expansion of United States relations with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Between 2011 and 2015, Saudi Arabia was the destination for nearly 10% of all U.S. arms exports

The 2017 deal was partially created with the help of Jared Kushner, son-in-law of and senior advisor to President Trump

So the attack on the Saudi oil production facilities raises tensions significantly between the US and Iran. The risks may temper responses, but I think it likely that there will be some sort of retaliation.  Economic sanctions are already in place against Iran, so that must be a limited option. If Iran is indeed responsible for the attack it may in part be an attempt to enhance the value of their own oil to compensate for sanctions.

Whatever, it’s complex and it’s a high risk game being played in the Middle East that could significantly impact on the world.



‘Hasty’ lawmaking may lead to increased emissions

The Government surprised many with an announcement that they would limit future oil and gas exploration. Some hailed it as a sign they were serious about reducing fossil fuel use and reducing carbon emissions, but others have warned that it may actually increase emissions as people are forced to switch from gas to more polluting fuels.

Reductions in energy use and a switch to alternative energy would help alleviate the situation, but the Government has done little but talk about any of this side of the energy equation.

ODT:  Effect of ‘hasty’ law-making

The hasty passing of legislation banning offshore oil and gas exploration is another example of how little the Government is considering the longer term implications of its ideologically-driven law-making.

Our country’s ongoing energy security is an issue for all New Zealanders, but the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill, passed under haste on November 7, will impact significantly on this.

It deserved far more consultation and analysis than was permitted by its fast-tracking.

The Minister for Energy Dr Megan Woods admitted that no assessment had been undertaken of just how the ban imposed by the new law would lower greenhouse gas emissions, or what the economic fallout will be.

Some commentators argue the ban will actually lead to an increase in carbon emissions, because in the absence of a new gas supply coming on stream here, users will either be compelled to import fuel potentially from less environmentally-conscious producers or switch to coal, which is hardly an eco-friendly substitute.

Furthermore, energy costs are likely to increase, which will hurt not only our economy but the most vulnerable in society.

Many New Zealanders may not be aware that our current gas supply is likely to last for just seven more years and production volumes will diminish from 2021 onwards.

Given that the Government has effectively ruled out new offshore oil and gas exploration; and the fact onshore activity is unlikely, our chances of finding alternative gas supplies within our jurisdiction rest on prospecting activities permitted before the legislation came into force. Two of these are in South Island waters, off the coast of Otago and Southland.

But the business of realising a commercially viable discovery on a hydrocarbon prospect is a lengthy and complicated one. There is no certainty of outcome; the historic chances of success are one-in-five. Should either of these prospects fall inside those odds, however, the ensuing development offers our region and our country many benefits, even as we move towards a carbon-free future.

Of course, let’s not forget the hydrocarbons lying beneath the ocean floor are a carbon-based energy source, something we’re moving away from. But gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than oil or coal. Surely, as we move towards a carbon-zero future, a transition away from oil and coal using cleaner fuels is the most sensible option to enable us to continue to be productive.

New Zealand Oil & Gas chief executive Andrew Jefferies has said that if our dairy plants transitioned from coal to natural gas, and if fertiliser and methanol plants could be built here, New Zealand gas would be better for the Earth than alternative energy sources such as Canadian tar sands, or bitumen from Venezuela.

Everyone acknowledges that we need to move away from the consumption of fossil fuels, but until sufficient alternative energy sources are found we need to secure our energy future so we can sustain our economy and our homes.

-NZ Oil & Gas has until April 2019 to commit to drilling off Oamaru, and April 2020 to similarly commit to the Toroa permit, south of Dunedin. OMV was granted a two-year extension in October, pushed out to July 2021, to drill an exploratory well off Otago’s coast.

The Government rushed through a ban on more exploration, something that thrilled Greens and dismayed NZ First, hobbling the cart before they have found a replacement for the horse.

Perhaps this year they will come up with an alternative energy plan.

Trump says Saudi money more important than assassination

Donald Trump is copping flak again. This is justified, again.

White House: Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.

After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!

Vox: There’s nothing “America First” about Trump’s Saudi policy

A Washington Post story says Trump “puts economics above human rights,” and Stephen Collins at CNN accuses Trump of arguing that “principles that generations of Americans have cherished are for sale.”

Further exacerbating the egregiousness of the crime, the Saudis murdered Khashoggi on Turkish soil. The current regime in Turkey is, itself, not great, but the fact remains that Turkey is a NATO ally that the United States is treaty-bound to defend. Assassinating someone in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul is not exactly the same as making war on Turkey. But just as we want foreign governments to not do anything remotely resembling murdering American citizens, we also should want them to steer very clear of anything remotely resembling invading our NATO allies.

But what’s unique about Trump is the extent to which he is able to personally profit from the Saudi government while in office. This August, for example, the general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan was pleased to announce that after two straight years of decline, revenue grew 13 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

Why? Well, according to a letter he wrote that was obtained by the Post, “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia” played a key role.

Bottom line: The United States is the mightiest empire the world has ever known. Signing a treaty with us or being accepted as a legal permanent resident of our country ought to count for something in the world. Trump’s message is that it doesn’t — that foreigners can screw around with our people and our allies as much as they like as long as Trump doesn’t mind personally.

Fox News: Trump faces bipartisan backlash for Saudi statement

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle balk at President Trump’s decision to stand with Saudi Arabia after the murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashogg

Fox News: Trump thanks Saudi Arabia for lower oil prices

President Trump says he won’t destroy the world economy by being ‘foolish’ with Saudi Arabia over columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Fox News: Trump thanks Saudi Arabia for lower oil prices, but says ‘let’s go lower!’

The sharp drop in prices is being put down to increased production by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia. Trump had tweeted earlier in November his hope that Saudi Arabia would not cut its oil production.

One reason was fears of a price spike due to sanctions on Iran. But when Trump imposed them Nov. 5, he added a six-month waiver for several countries that are major consumers of Iranian oil. Instead of spiking, prices have slumped. Concerns about slowing global growth have also weighed on prices.

Trump’s public thanking of the Kingdom comes after he gave partial backing to the country over the controversy surrounding the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in October.

Oil rules. Money rules. trump puts short term business interests ahead of human rights and law.

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.

Reduced income after ‘ethical investment’ decision

Ethical investment decisions made by the Dunedin City Council last year have led to substantially reduced returns from investment funds.

ODT reports: City pays cost for divesting

Some of the Dunedin City Council’s divestment decisions have cost the city, it was revealed at yesterday’s council finance committee meeting.

Group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the Waipori Fund had realised some losses as a result of the council’s decision to divest from some sectors, but the total amount was not clear.

The council voted last May to scrap any investments the fund had in the munitions, tobacco, fossil fuel extraction, gambling or pornography industries and to bar future investment in those industries.

While they are now forbidden areas of investment I haven’t seen any claims that there were any investments in munitions, tobacco or pornography.

Is oil, coal and mineral extraction really on the same ethical level as them? To the Greens perhaps. Or they wanted to make ‘ethical investment’ sound better when their target was primarily mining and drilling.

The ethical investment policy gave the fund two years to exit those industries, but Mr McKenzie confirmed yesterday the last of its positions – BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – were sold earlier this year.

But there were investments in mining, something Greens want to stop – and there’s a definite Green lean to the Dunedin City Council.

‘‘We are now in a position that we have completely divested in those shares,” he said.

The fund had produced $783,000 in profit during the eight months to February 29. However, this was $1.657 million down on the budgeted $2.44 million profit.

Some of the unfavourable variance was because of divestment losses, Mr McKenzie said.

  • Budgeted $2.44 million profit
  • Actual $783,000 profit

That’s a significant reduction to under a third of budgeted returns.

Green anti-mining and anti-drilling policies appear have come at a significant cost to Dunedin ratepayers.

And we still need oil and mineral products.

And we don’t seem to have made millions from clean green alternatives.

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.