Standing up for Otago

19/01/2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull’s campaign to Stand Up Otago has gone quiet with his less than enthusiastic response to the news that Shell plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher is happy to stand up for jobs.

Anadarko is due to start exploratory deep-sea drilling in the next few weeks, and Mr Kircher said yesterday’s meeting had provided a chance to ensure that safeguards were taken to protect the environment, as well as a chance to ensure the district was well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that could arise.

”The potential is absolutely enormous for our region. Oil and gas has transformed the Taranaki region, bringing prosperity, jobs and opportunities for the whole area. Test results indicate that the area being tested off Otago may have much greater reserves than Taranaki.

”I was elected on the basis of growing our economy in the Waitaki district and I see this as a major possible game-changer for us all.

”Even if the production is based in Dunedin, the flow-on effects for our district will be significant.”

He said he would always be willing to listen to any concerns people might have about oil and gas exploration.

”I represent our district and will do what I can to pass on those concerns and ensure they are dealt with properly.” . . .

Otago won’t be as strong as it should be if Dunedin is weak.

The jobs and economic growth that would flow from Shell basing its exploration in Dunedin would benefit the whole province.

This prospect has its detractors but there’s more than a little hypocrisy in their protests as these letters to the editor in the weekend ODT says:

The front page article (ODT, 13.1.14) regarding the small group of protesters who want to block the offshore drilling by Anadarko gave prominence to an incredibly small proportion of the Dunedin population; as such it did not deserve front page positioning. That said it was interesting to note these people who wish to limit oil exploration were using boats and boards, wetsuits and probably vehicles to get to Port Chalmers, all of which need petroleum products in their manufacture.

This group would carry a greater message if they used wooden canoes, dressed in wool, and used cork as their flotation aid. If this group want alternatives why can’t they come up with bright ideas and interesting conversations, not protests and negativity? R.J. McKenzie.

Oh the irony of the Oil Free Otago rent-a-mob pictured on the front page. Virtually every object and action in your pictures of the so-called protesters is ultimately derived from the use of fossil fuels – including the PVC jackets, neoprene wetsuits, plastic kayaks, the paint on the banners to the smart phones and computers used to organise the mob. It even appears as though the majority of protesters travelled to Port Chalmers from Dunedin in private motor cars and one wonders how much fossil fuel was burnt in travelling to Dunedin by participants in the Oil Free Future Summit. When will these people learn that in every single moment of every day everybody uses something that is either drilled or mined and that include the alternative future technologies so beloved of the rent-a-mob. The alternative is the Stone-Age. Peter Dymock.

Anti-tobacco lobbyists who smoked would have no credibility, anti-progress protesters who use the fuels against which the rail and provide no alternatives for sustainable growth are little better.

Waitaki’s mayor understands the importance of economic growth in the region and is standing up for Otago, I’m not sure Dunedin’s does and is.


The people are speaking

11/01/2014

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull and some of his councillors are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of Shell drilling for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

But yesterday’s ODT (print edition) had three letters under the heading ‘silent majority’ needs to stand up for Otago.

Stand up Otago. An empty slogan or a real call for action? The Otago Daily times (8.1.14) headlined with the dreadful news of major cutbacks at Macraes. As with all big business job losses the impact will be felt far beyond those directly affected. These jobs are skilled and well paid, making them even harder to replace in a region where wages have been driven down relentlessly in a crowded marketplace. . .

There is hope for a reversal of our sad fortune, particularly in the field of engineering. Peter McIntyre’s call for support of Dunedin’s push to service the gas industry in its exploration of southern waters should be a rallying call for our future.

Dunedin’s famous silent majority needs to lose its inhibitions and start shouting really loudly to drown out the lunatic fringe whose drums are already beating. Gareth Hughes is up and running with his beak in our business, babbling on with the usual scaremongering that is the trademark of his breed. Dave Cull needs to get off the fence and start thinking about real jobs for real people. Tim Shadbolt will be more than happy to champion Invercargill’s virtues as a base for drilling.

Dunedin still has the skills and equipment to support this enterprise. Should we lose out this time, we will have neither in the future.

Stand up Otago. The revolution starts now!Richard O’Mahony.

Wake Up Dunedin. You should be doing all you can to attract the drilling by Shell off the coast to be based in Dunedin. I visited Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1980 and it was a dull, old grey-stone city. When I visited again in the 1990s it was a bustling, bright city. Why? Because oil had been found in the North Sea and Aberdeen was the onshore base.

Our city could be rejuvenated if something similar was found off our coast. Come on Dunedin mayor and councillors, do everything in tyour powers to encourage use by shell and co of our city and have what could be a bright, vigorous future. Invercargill will take a welcoming attitude. Alexa Craig.

It is great news to hear that Shell has announced, along with its partners OMV and Mitsui E&P, it will go ahead with a $200 million test well for natural gas in the Great South Basin. the well will be located 150 KM offshore from Dunedin in 1350m of water, making Dunedin the ideal base.

Should a discover be made and the gas fields fully developed, then within five years, the potential employment opportunities and benefits for local business would be huge. The Berl report estimates the potential benefits will be: 256 jobs, $179 million spent regionally and $71 million generated per year in GDP for the local community over 45 years. In the first few years of development, there would be an excess of 1000 jobs created and $1 billion spent.

Dunedin and the Otago region need to roll out the red carpet to support the supply hub to be based in Dunedin. We are fortunate that we already have many of the required support businesses based in our city. Now we need the entire community to support this new industry. – Cr Andrew Whiley.

The ODT itself opines:

. . . What we cannot afford as a community is for one sector to stand against the chance of experiencing a possible huge economic boom. To convince Shell to establish here, and possibly keep Macraes operating longer, the whole community and its representatives must be united as one. Let us not allow this opportunity to pass by.

Shell has a choice about where it will base its on-shore support.

No-one doubts that Invercargill will put out the welcome mat.

Mayor Cull must get over his personal antipathy to the development and show the sort of enthusiasm these correspondents are if Dunedin and Otago are to have an even chance of being chosen.


Oil and gas ‘unethical like tobacco’?

10/01/2014

Yesterday’s ODT quoted a Dunedin City Councillor’s view on the news Shell will be drilling in the Deep South Basin:

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.”

Even for someone with very strong concerns about climate change this is an extreme view.

I am sure she doesn’t smoke but like all of us she uses and benefits from products of the oil and gas industry – and exploration could bring significantly more to the city and province.

Today’s paper reports Dunedin and Otago could reap billions from a game changing gas boom.

The first taste of petroleum money could be just weeks away in Dunedin, as Texas-based oil giant Anadarko prepares to move its state-of-the-art drilling ship into Otago waters, it has been confirmed.

A natural gas boom worth billions of dollars to the regional economy could follow in the ship’s wake, with thousands of jobs potentially created across Otago, it has been suggested.

As arguments for and against the industry’s arrival in Dunedin continue, a report by economic analyst Berl has outlined the possible regional benefits of an oil or gas strike anywhere in the South Island.

It calculated a large offshore gas field could be worth $8.1 billion to the economy of any region hosting the industry, and $3.1 billion in regional GDP, while creating 11,540 jobs.

The report was prepared in March 2012 for the Ministry of Economic Development, but had not previously been seen by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

He told the ODT yesterday the report did not allay public concern about fossil fuels and climate change, but the economic benefits – if applied to Dunedin or Otago – would be ”more than significant”.

”It could be a game-changer in terms of the economy.”. . .

The DCC has been lamenting job losses in the city and calling on government to help.

Now there’s an opportunity for significant inwards investment and job creation and the mayor and some of his councillors are still reluctant to grasp it.


Bad and good

09/01/2014

Yesterday’s ODT led with the bad news of job losses at Macraes mine.

That’s followed up by today’s story of more job losses in firms which service and supply the mine.

Yesterday’s paper also had the good news story of Shell’s decision to drill in the Great South Basin.

This is how life goes. Good things happen during bad times and bad things happen during better times.

But the outlook for those people who have lost jobs or business because of Oceana Gold’s slow-down at Macraes is better now the economy is improving than it would have been even a year ago.

It would be better still if Dunedin was showing a warmer welcome to Shell.

The city is vying with Invercargill to be Shell’s base and mayor Dave Cull is at best lukewarm:

. . . Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull – who remained personally opposed to the increasingly difficult search for fossil fuels – said he was nevertheless ”cautiously optimistic” the city could benefit from Shell’s plans.

He was encouraged the company was prepared to invest up to $200 million in its search for natural gas, and not oil, off the city’s coast.

However, with the test drill not scheduled until 2016, and any full-scale extraction – if it eventuated – a decade away, he cautioned against too much excitment, too soon.

”What comes out of it, in terms of job creation and business and economic development, will depend on the size of what they find.

”If they are going to be drilling, this is pretty good, and clearly Dunedin is very well placed to offer the services and facilities that they might need,” he said. . .

Two councillors are even less enthusiastic:

. . . including Cr Aaron Hawkins, who said the council had a ”moral obligation” to protect the interests of future generations.

”I don’t think it’s fair to clamour over a few jobs now and leave our grandchildren to pick up the tab environmentally and economically.

”Frankly, I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at economic development.”

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.” . . .

Contrast this with the reaction from Invercargill.

Yesterday’s Southland Times devoted its whole front page to telling the story – consortium backs $200m basin well –  and followed up with enthusiastic welcome for drill plan.

Today’s story is headlined drilling holds promise of job bonanza.

Shell will make its decision on where it’s based on a variety of factors, one of which will be the attitude of the city.

In good times and bad, you have to do what you can to help yourself.

Invercargill is doing that, Dunedin must do better.


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