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28/3/2018 — Oil and Gas
Pandora’s Box now well open
By Ross Louthean

It would appear Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened her Pandora’s Box wider the day before the New Zealand Petroleum Conference, which became known to most New Zealanders through protests and obstructive moves by protesters against delegates in Wellington yesterday.

The reporting of the PM addressing a business audience that used Chatham House Rules saw largely third-hand reports aligned to the PM on a contention that gas was being used as a “crutch” which slowed the move to renewable energy.

If that report, citing three attendees, was correct then Jacinda Ardern has added to her already public efforts which have become music to the ears of Greenpeace and other environmental groups waging war on fossil fuels.

And the Energy Minister’s speech at the conference yesterday would not have inspired petroleum explorers to maintain an industry that plays a major part in propping an economy that now is wearing major new spending on education and scientific endeavours that may well make NZ’s agriculture less competitive.

The media reported on March 19 that the PM, in accepting a Greenpeace petition, reportedly said the Government was “actively considering” ending offshore oil exploration.

On the gas issue, the PM and her allies have clearly discounted the important role that Genesis Energy’s Huntly power station has in providing back-up for all the major power generators at any time that hydro dams are low, or there is a lack of wind. Huntley has gas and coal-fired generators.

So, if the PM wants that scrapped sooner than planned, will this precipitate blackouts of the likes experienced in South Australia and now being seen in Victoria where traditional power stations have been deliberately shut by State Australian Labor Party governments, heavily subsidising wind power. There is already the added grief of soaring power prices, which has shut one significant business in SA.

For Huntly to be scrapped, will the back-up be over-capacity with renewables that for most of their life will be idle?

And on the matter of stopping future oil exploration, the result could be not only higher balance of trade costs through imports of oil and gas, but also a lift in petrol prices.

The Greenpeace members and supporters who still drive conventional petrol or diesel-fuelled cars won’t like that.

If the petroleum revenue for NZ is $500 million, as claimed, then it’s a revenue base needed in the future.

To win over the public, the New Zealand oil and gas sector may have to produce some salient facts. Currently, the opposition is drowning the oilies on social media.

Sources: Stuff.co.nz; nzherald.co.nz & nzresources.com

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Greenpeace activists in front of the NZ Petroleum Conference yesterday: Photo: Fairfax Media.