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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