12 April 2018 – Great Work Prime Minister – but don’t stop there…
Oil Free Otago congratulates the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government for ending new offshore oil and gas exploration in Aotearoa NZ, and calls for them to go a step further and ban current permits for new oil or gas exploration, including the Barque Prospect off Oamaru.
“Today’s announcement is a wonderful, historic step forward for all of us, young and old. We would like to thank all our supporters over the years who have put enormous effort into opposing Anadarko, NZ Oil & Gas (NZOG), Shell, Beach Energy, OMV and others. This is your day.” Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden said.
“Really, it is everyone’s day, because it is a win for the planet, home to us all, a win for the albatross, Oil Free Otago’s adopted logo, and a win for all the sea creatures we have worked for many years to protect from oil and gas drilling.”
The government today announced that onshore oil and gas exploration will continue in the Taranaki region and that current permits elsewhere will not be stopped. That means that exploratory drilling in NZOG’s Barque Prospect off Oamaru and in OMV’s prospect in the Great South Basin, recently purchased from Shell, may still go ahead this coming summer.
NZOG (recently purchased by Singapore-based O.G.Oil & Gas, so not a NZ company) are struggling to find an investor for the Barque Prospect which they describe as a “game-changer” for the region, emphasising any find is likely to be gas, the so-called “clean” fossil fuel.
“What the industry fail to mention about natural gas are the fugitive emissions or methane leakage that comes from every new oil or gas well.”
Natural gas is mostly methane before it is burned, a very potent greenhouse gas – calculated to be around 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period. Recent research from Harvard shows that methane leakage from gas production and delivery in the US rose by up to 30% in the 12 years up to 2014. Many studies besides the Harvard one find that even a very small amount of methane leakage from gas wells and transport systems can have a large climate impact — enough to cancel out any emissions advantage gas may have over coal.
“So the timing is all wrong for gas” Ms Penwarden explains. “For a start, it’s too late. It takes up to a decade or more for a new discovery to reach the commercial stage, then the well could produce for many decades, long past the time by which we need to have reached a zero emissions economy. Second, the South Island has no infrastructure for gas. Why would our government and regional councils spend millions now on new gas infrastructure that will be obsolete before it even gets used?
“Third, why invest in drilling for and using new gas when we could be using that money now on renewable technologies?
“Fourth and most important: climate change is here now. We don’t know for sure if we’ve reached a tipping point that will lead to unstoppable climate breakdown, but for NZOG to drill for new gas now is reckless if not criminal.
“If the government is not going to stop NZOG and OMV then we, the people, will. Today we celebrate a historic win. Tomorrow we continue the fight. Let’s hope these companies read the writing on the wall, pack up now and go home. We have an exciting new clean energy economy to build.”
Dunningham Suite, Dunedin Public Library
Sunday 23 April 2017
Hosted by OIL FREE OTAGO and SEA (Students for Environmental Action)
10am – Dr Terrence Loomis presents:
Petroleum Development and Environmental Conflict in Aotearoa New Zealand
Shortly after the National government came to power in 2008, it set out a policy framework called the Business Growth Agenda in response to the global financial crisis to boost economic growth. The Agenda included major expansion of the oil and gas industry in the hope of a ‘game changing’ discovery. In hindsight National may not have fully appreciated the challenges it was buying into.
States seeking to grow their economies through expansion of resource extraction face more complex dilemmas than a few short decades ago. Besides the increasing influence of transnational corporations on domestic politics and democratic institutions and the need to prevent or mitigate the environmental damage from increased extraction activities, there is mounting evidence that unconventional oil and gas technologies and riskier ‘frontier’ exploration activities are harming communities, local environments, and human health. In addition international accords and growing citizen concerns over climate change are compelling states to review their energy policies and plan how to transition to a low-carbon economy.
In the case of New Zealand, the government chose to undertake a number of orchestrated steps in collaboration with the petroleum industry to remove perceived impediments to industry expansion, promote the petroleum industry to ‘middle New Zealand,’ and defuse, co-opt or subvert environmental opposition. The petroleum industry developed its own set of strategies, or borrowed them from overseas, to help achieve their mutual aims.
Economic anthropologist Dr Loomis has researched these developments over the past several years. In this book he examines the government’s maneuvers and oil industry strategies more closely. He reveals how criticism and resistance activities by environmental activists, concerned citizens’ groups and even some local authorities not only disrupted government/industry efforts and highlighted National’s contradictory energy and climate policies, but had far-reaching effects on institutional relations and values between the state and the community sector.
Published by Lexington Books, Lanham, MD
11am – Dr Sophie Bond presents:
Debating deep sea oil: dissent, disdain and solidarity
Sophie Bond, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Otago, teaches and researches in areas of social and environmental justice. In particular, she is interested in how dissent, open public debate, and social action are enabled as a crucial part of democratic engagement. Her current work explores how action for climate justice is enabled or constrained by neoliberalism and contemporary forms of governance.
Research authors: Amanda Thomas, Gradon Diprose and Sophie Bond
12:00 – 3pm – Stay for a shared lunch, discussion and play GO MINE
Dunedin artist and activist Ruth Evans developed the subversive table top card game Go Mine for her Master of Fine Art programme at Otago Polytechnic.
Based on New Zealand’s mineral extraction industries, Go Mine allows players to act as corporate tycoons intent on mining the planet for resources. Action cards attack or defend against opponents. Shipments are created and exported, allowing players to gain the points needed for further mining and future bribing of officials. Players can establish conference calls where they can attempt to actively reform the entire system or “make their own rules”.
In order to win Go Mine, a player must own 5 bribe cards at the end of their turn. However, should the planet be exhausted before this is achieved, everyone loses.
Go Mine is available for purchase by individuals, schools or groups.
Local Body election posters plaster the papers, hoardings speckle the roadside, candidate meetings populate our calendars. Each candidate professes to have answers to our biggest issues, in similar but vague terms, as long as we give them our vote Number One.
But will the next batch of Dunedin City Councillors work to safeguard our future, or sabotage it?
One thing’s for sure; the government doesn’t seem bothered about the future; Energy Minister Simon Bridges’ annual lolly scramble for the oil and gas industry, Block Offer 2017, includes putting 210,884 square kilometres of the Canterbury and Great South Basins up for grabs. Iwi are being consulted as we speak, and local body consultations begin on 17 October.
As in previous years ordinary citizens have been shut out of the consultation, so we depend on our elected councillors to represent our views.
This year, the need to oppose new fossil fuel exploration is even more urgent. A report just published by the group Oil Change International calculates that to meet the Paris Climate Agreement to keep the world below two degrees of global warming we cannot afford any new oil and gas drilling. None.
What’s needed now is a swift, managed decline in the production of all current oil, gas and coal production.
What’s new is this: even the coal, oil and gas in currently producing wells and mines will take us beyond two degrees of global warming. As for new exploration? Ever once dreamed of Dunedin as a Taranaki-of-the-South, or a southern hemisphere Aberdeen? Forget it. You’re fifty years too late.
While the government ignores reality, local councils have got to take the lead.
Last year, as well as formally opposing the Block Offer, the DCC voted to divest from fossil fuel extraction, becoming the second New Zealand Council in the country to divest, joining the worldwide movement to stop investing and profiting from the fossil fuel industry.
Just two weeks ago the University of Otago joined the DCC in committing to be ‘fossil free’.
This is but a small contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but the real issue here is a moral one; we can no longer invest, profit from and run our establishments on an industry that is destroying the world, and thanks to these commitments Dunedin can proudly uphold the moral high ground.
Dunedin voters urgently need to know if our next councillors are going to maintain our own growing reputation as a climate leader.
Who to vote for? Oil Free Otago emailed 41 councillor hopefuls last week (two had no email addresses) and received 13 responses, asking:
- “Where do you stand in relation to oil and gas exploration off the Otago Coast?”
- “Will you commit to submitting in opposition to the Block Offer if you are elected to the Dunedin City Council?”
Two candidates, Andrew Whiley, spokesman for the industry front group Pro Gas Otago, and Richard O’Mahoney, both support oil and gas exploration and will not support a written submission from the DCC opposing this year’s Block Offer 2017.
Neil Johnstone does not “particularly like marine-based oil operations for environmental reasons” but “cannot commit to or against any proposal that I haven’t had any opportunity to appraise”.
Nine others (Aaron Hawkins, Scout Barbour-Evans, Dave Cull, Marie Laufoso, Islay McLeod, Steve Walker, Abe Gray, David Benson-Pope, Damian Newell and Jim O’Malley) oppose deep sea drilling. Eight of these will support a DCC submission opposing the Block Offer while current Mayor Dave Cull will “commit to expressing the views of the Dunedin community as best we can ascertain them. On the last occasion DCC submitted, the overwhelming preponderance of views expressed by the community was opposed to further exploration and extraction.”
We did not receive replies from the other council hopefuls, but do know the views of current councillors. Here’s how those who are standing this time round voted when the DCC moved to divest its shares in fossil fuel extraction companies last year:
- In favour of fossil fuel divestment: Chris Staynes, David Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Kate Wilson and Dave Cull
- Opposed to fossil fuel divestment: Andrew Whiley, Mike Lord, Doug Hall and Lee Vandervis
The government has chosen April Fools’ Day 2017 for the new exploration and drilling permits to begin, but no oil companies have even bothered to bid for permits amid the roaring forties and furious fifties of our treacherous southern ocean since 2013.
Last month two oil prospecting companies, ION Geophysical and Houston based TGS, withdrew their prospecting permit applications before they were even approved. Anadarko, which drilled unsuccessfully off Taiaroa Head in early 2014, cut over 1,000 jobs this year, cut their capital spending by half, and asked the government for a permit extension. Shell is showing signs of leaving New Zealand altogether, after delaying its planned exploratory drill in the Great South Basin last summer.
Dunedin voters: let us vote wisely. This is no time for Fools.
PS: In case you haven’t voted, here’s a late response from Mayor hopeful Athol Bayne (who doesn’t seem to have heard that we can’t keep burning oil for 300 more years): Hi, my thoughts are somewhat different from most as while at the moment oil is the primary part of our technology its role must decrease to reduce carbon greenhouse gases and pollution .The dwindling sources of new oil worldwide and the use of shale oil extraction mean the Great South Basin is unlikely to economic to be exploited before 2050 if New Zealand is prudent. There must however be put in place before exploitation begins a comprehensive plan and working anti-pollution measures need to be in place including putting export controls on usage of the hopefully NZ processed petroleum based products to ensure the lowest possible greenhouse gas emissions are enforced. The current Government policy does not meet these requirements and our existing infrastructure and technology as well as our nations liabilities for search and rescue could become very stretched, as nowhere in the oil exploration world encounters such extreme sea swells as the southern Ocean.
I will oppose the block offer as it is too soon to be tapping the great south basin oil field and new Zealand needs to plan the exploitation properly and not run off half cocked taking whatever crumbs are being offered. With proper investigation and planning we can get a much better outcome for New Zealand and once again the current Governments plan for raw procut expot is so lacking in vision we should process the oil here and export with controls a value added product ensuring the most employment for our citizens coupled with rigid environmental protection. Helen Clark’s government also attempted this but luckily the weather proved to extreme to be economically exploitable and now National is trying the same tired old ploy of not getting best value for new Zealand.There is no hurry and we need to think long term as the great south basin holds in excess of 300 years worth global oil at current rate of usage and this amount of oil and green house emissions needs to be both exploited and controlled by NZ for NZ and world benefit as un restricted use would be irresponsible stewardship of this wonderful planet God has put us on. Regards, Athol Bayne
Watch out Kiwis! The government TPPA spin machine is winding up. Spin, bias and outright lies are coming at us from the mainstream media, via the National Party machine. Thanks to ActionStation, here are some of the facts to help us sift the truth from the propaganda.
Prof Jane Kelsey and Lori Wallach from USA Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch will be in Dunedin to discuss the next phase of the global fight to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Get the latest facts from the experts.