Taranaki Daily News
Block Offer opens up Taranaki
The government has made another 40,000 square-kilometres of Taranaki available for oil exploration.
The move, announced yesterday by Minister for Energy and Resources Simon Bridges at the New Zealand Petroleum Conference in Auckland, would take the total area for exploration to 62,040 square kilometres (sqkm) – a fivefold increase on last year, when just 12,111 sqkm was available.
The latest Taranaki block offer includes 60,978sqkm off-shore and 1,062sqkm on land.
Chief executive of the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) Cameron Madgwick said the announcement was ‘‘very good news for Taranaki’’.
But Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the new exploration area would impinge on 2,600sqkm of the maui dolphin sanctuary off Taranaki’s coast.
‘‘This is a disaster for the environment and yet another example of National backing a polluting industry instead of investing in the clean-technology jobs that New Zealanders want,’’ he said.
Protesters from Greenpeace blocked attendees to the petroleum conference at SkyCity by sitting in doorways around the centre during the morning, before dispersing at 11am.
Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said they were protesting the government’s decision to continue drilling for oil despite there having been no successful deep sea oil drills.
However, the announcement was welcomed by the petroleum industry. ‘‘Taranaki contains the only establishing and producing oil fields in the country,’’ Madgwick said.
‘‘While other regions have a larger area on offer it’s going to take a lot of work to get them to a stage where they are producing.’’
Madgwick said the petroleum industry was keen to see the Taranaki basin’s full potential realised.
The offer wasn’t the answer to all Taranaki’s problems and the low oil price would need to pick up before exploration started, he said.
But the decision would help the industry to fully realise the potential of the Taranaki Basin, which could include gas, he said.
‘‘That’s something Taranaki might be able to seize upon, with quite a few of the oil fields harvesting gas as well.’’
It’s not just Taranaki that would benefit from the offer, with 186,181sqkm opened in the Northland, Reinga and New Caledonia basins, 68,661sqkm in the Pegasus and East Coast basins and 208,632sqkm in the Great South and Canterbury basins.
Companies wanting to snap up the newly-opened areas had until September 7, 2016 to lodge their bids for tender.
With 525,515sqkm total on offer in New Zealand, the tender area had grown by 96,515sqkm since last year and by 482,010sqkm since the Block Offer began in 2012.
In his opening speech to the conference, Bridges said the offer created consistency for the industry while also ensuring New Zealand was attracting highly capable companies.
Bridges said the majority of oil exploration was already happening in the Taranaki basin, but the country’s 17 other basins were currently under-explored, as was the area inshore on the Taranaki bight.
‘‘Today the [Taranaki] basin has 20 producing fields. Considering almost a third, 14 out of 44, of the permits issued since 2012 have been inshore Taranaki, it is clear the area still has untapped potential,’’ he said.
Hughes said the move was in the wrong direction.
‘‘The global movement to embrace clean energy and the low oil price make drilling for oil in New Zealand economically and environmentally stupid, but our desperate government keeps trying.’’ The Easter Bunny is forecast to be extra generous in Oakura this year.
The beachside village would be holding an easter egg hunt this week, but instead of searching for foil-covered chocolate the public would be looking for a sterling silver egg to lead them to a hamper of goodies worth $800. Belinda Lubkoll, from Ringcraft Moana Jewellery Design Studio, said they started the upscale hunt three years ago, hiding a token in the town which won the lucky finder a handcrafted sapphire diamond ring.
The next year, Emerge Beauty Therapy jumped on board to give away a pamper package along with two rings, Lubkoll said.
However, this year the majority of the village’s businesses had come together and contributed to the grand prize - a hamper full of chocolate, food vouchers, beauty vouchers, and among other items a $350 sterling silver sapphire ring.
A sterling silver Easter egg had been created as this year’s token and would be hidden somewhere in the village, Lubkoll said.
The first cryptic clue to its whereabouts would be posted on the event’s Facebook page at noon tomorrow.
‘‘Then every hour there will be another clue posted.
‘‘And the [Oakura] beach camp and Butler’s have free wi-fi so after an hour you can pop in and check on the next clue,’’ she said.
The first hunt took six hours before the token was found, with up to 60 people looking for it throughout the day. More than 100 people had already registered their interest in the event on Facebook and they expected more to be involved on the day.
‘‘I’m thinking it’s going to be a bit bigger this year.’’
Ultimately, the event was a bit of fun for the township and a great way to promote the businesses hidden away around the coast, she said. Two weeks ago, businesses held their first ever Oakura business community meeting in an attempt to keep up with the continued growth of the beachside area, Lubkoll said.
‘‘We thought this would be a great idea to involve everyone... to give the village a little boost.’’
And to get everyone started, the first clue for the hunt was the egg would be hidden in a public place in Oakura, she said.
‘‘It’s not in private land, so no trespassing. There’s no climbing and no digging.’’