Taranaki community ‘let down‘ by oil exploration ban

The Taranaki community feels let down by the government‘s announcement that it will not grant new deep-sea oil and gas exploration permits, a business leader says.

Photo: 123RF

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods

According to the most recent study the oil and gas industry directly employs about 4300 people in Taranaki and is linked to the creation of about 7000 jobs.

In 2015 it generated $1.5 billion dollars of GDP in the region.

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chief executive Arun Chandhari said the government‘s announcement put that at risk.

It was clear from the community‘s reaction that the decision was “quite demoralising”.

“It‘s an indication that this government does not want to see further new exploration and the community feels let down.

“It‘s going to move the hydrocarbon industry away. In the short term there might still be a little bit of investment but medium and long-term I think it‘s going to be very hard for the oil bosses or the hydrocarbon industry bosses to convince their bosses to invest in this country.”

What do locals think?

Mark Louis, bar and restaurant owner, worried people would lose confidence.

“I know that they are saying that for 20 years there‘s going to be stuff happening, but there won‘t be any new things coming in and people will lose confidence in the region.

“I think it will affect every business in town, everything.”

Oil services company executive Nick King thought differently.

“From a personal view I don‘t think it will affect it (the sector) going forward. I think it is just the way they have looked at it to fulfill their obligations to the Green Party…

“The block offers are already out there going through to 2030 and so the exploration wells that already have commitments are out there already and will be drilled on commitment.”

Colin Bell was happy with the decision.

“I think it‘s good. We need to be realistic about global warming and start doing something about it and some people are misconstruing it – that they‘ll be no jobs in the oil industry but they will continue for some years of course.

“I think we‘ll adjust. I don‘t think it will be the end of Taranaki by any means. I mean there‘s alternatives. Where‘s all the wind power stations in New Plymouth or Taranaki? There‘s none.”

Apprentice electrician Denis Reyes: “It‘s a bit sad for people working in oil and gas but at the same time it could be good for the environment especially for the next generation.

“You have to look after our planet or country first. Still got kind of mixed emotions about that.”

Nathan Greenland thought it was “pretty awesome”.

“I didn‘t really like the idea of the place getting mined or drilled for oil so I think that‘s a great thing.”

Debbie Aston was conflicted.

“Well, I am a bit of a Greenie so I think on the environmental side it‘s really good, but I‘m also a bit concerned about the economy here in New Plymouth.

“So I‘m kinda split down the middle actually.”

However, bus driver Stuart McKendrick was not impressed.

“I think it‘s a load of shit myself, I‘m sorry … nah I‘ve heard … because it‘s gonna lose a lot of jobs and jobs are important.

“I don‘t care about the oil and whatnot. It‘s jobs and that‘s it. Simple as that.

And oil industry worker Brendon Cahill said going electric was not clean fuel.

“The process involved in manufacturing batteries and those motors and those cars has a huge carbon footprint that no-one ever talks about because it doesn‘t fit the clean-green narrative.”

“Some Greenies think oil is man-made. Oil is a natural resource. A gift from Mother Earth for us to use.

“And sure there‘s a better way of doing things coming and there‘s been leaps and strides made in developing that new technology, but you‘re not going to run a Boeing 777 on lightweight batteries to LA. That‘s a long time coming.”