Oil and Gas retreating, step up our campaigns for a sustainable, low carbon future

waka port Ngamotu 20151020_140039LR

In the last month we have seen oil giant Shell pulled out of the Arctic and postponed its 2015 drilling programme in NZ’s Great South Basin indefinitely. Two weeks ago, Tag Oil announced cutting its 2016 spending by nearly 30% and delaying its work in NZ until next financial year or “until we see better oil pricing“. This is good news for the children and parents of Norfolk school where Tag Oil had planned to drill just 600m away, at least for now.

Apparently, no offshore drilling rig is due to enter NZ waters this summer and the Ensco-107 rig which finished drilling off the OMV Maari field will not be drilling this year, but used as a platform for maintenance work on the Shell Pohokura oil/gas field nearshore from New Plymouth. Although perhaps no deepsea drilling this summer, Norwegian owned StatOil is analyzing the data it has collected from seismic blasting off Northland to determine its next move. It appears adamant that it’ll keep looking for oil off NZ – a gap in the companies’ Asia Pacific program that it wishes to fill. Moreover, NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa, with its recent $24 million upgrade, is also well equipped to gather oceanic data for the oil and gas industry.

The encouraging news is that the Christchurch City Council is standing strong on its opposition to deepsea oil and communities elsewhere are objecting the government’s 2016 Block Offer for oil and gas exploration. Why is it that the Obama Administration could call off new drilling plans in the Arctic while the NZ government just keeps charging ahead with its obsession in deepsea oil and onshore fracking, both being highly risky environmentally and economically?

Last week, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, Simon Bridges, Minister for Energy and Resources boasted about NZ’s so-called “fossil-fuel subsidy reform” – but what about the Tangaroa upgrade and the $10 million for GNS’ oil/gas research this year alone?  Interestingly the Minister also emphasized the need to “climate-proof” our energy infrastructure so that they’d cope with extreme weather events – a bit of foresight perhaps, but why would you invest in reinforcing what’s causing the destructive climate impacts in the first place rather than supporting real solutions to climate change notably sustainable energy systems?

In conclusion, the APEC ministers released a Ministerial Statement in support of the theme of energy resilience: strengthening oil and gas security, diversifying supply, improving energy efficiency, promoting low-carbon development, biofuels, and alternative energy sources including nuclear power, advanced coal technologies, LPG, solar, wind and marine energy.  On wind, multinational manufacturer Procter & Gamble (PG) has just announced its plan to build a wind farm in US Texas which would power all its factories that make homecare products. PG is one of the 81 US firms which have committed to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although a few energy firms have signed the pledge, large oil and gas companies are notably absent.

It is quite clear that energy security is high on the national and global agenda and there will continue to be immense corporate powers at play. It’s time to step up our oil free, frack free, divestment (from fossil fuels), reinvestment (in clean responsible energy) and climate justice campaigns… Let’s be strong and creative!

Support the many regional petitions to block the offers fo oil and gas exploration issued by the short-sighted NZ government.

If you live in Taranaki, come to the Port of New Plymouth this week (20-21 Oct) to greet the traditional Polynesian vaka arriving with a tonne of organic fair-trade cocao beans to demonstrate the positive alternatives. The vaka carries the message of urgent actions needed by leaders all over the world to act on real climate change solutions, as it tells the disheartening story of  the relocation of entire villages from the Carteret Islands, being eroded away and submerged by sea level rise. Follow the blog of the voyage here. See news story.

Photo of the sailing waka Uto ni Yalo at Port Taranaki, with Ensco-107 rig in the background, 20 Oct 2015.

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