Greenpeace warns Barque resources must stay in the seabed
Ben Aulakh, February 15, 2018 - stuff
Environmentalists from Greenpeace are warning that to avoid what they claim will be catastrophic climate change, the oil and gas lying in the potentially lucrative underwater Barque Prospect needs to stay there.
The oil and gas field, situated in a sea basin 60 kilometres off the North Otago coast, is estimated to contain 5 trillion cubic metres of oil or gas.
If successfully exploited the prospect is forecast to add thousands of jobs to the region's economy, along with $15 billion in GDP, and $32b in royalties and taxes over its lifetime.
New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) was originally given until April 19 this year to explore the prospect, but in late January that deadline was extended until April 20, 2019.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Kate Simcock said the science around continuing to use fossil fuels was very clear.
"It says if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and the two degree temperature rise we signed up to under the Paris Agreement, we need to leave all new coal and gas in the ground.
"We are opposed to new oil and gas exploration, and this permit is part of that. If we are serious about climate change we need to stop exploring for new reserves urgently."
Simcock said Greenpeace worked with local groups who campaigned actively on oil and gas issues.
"We will be in the area in the next 10 days to meet with some of those groups as part of a tour we are doing around seismic testing and oil exploration."
Greenpeace always consulted with local interest groups and iwi in a particular area, and would be doing the same thing in South Canterbury, Simcock said.
But this week NZOG spokesman John Pagani encouraged the South Canterbury community to continue to tell a positive story about the project's potential environmental benefits.
He said if natural gas was found in the prospect it would be better for the environment than Venezuelan bitumen or oil from Canadian tar sands.
Simcock said talking of gas as a transition fuel between fossil fuels and a cleaner energy future was spin used by the industry to delay the onset of renewable energy.
Simcock also challenged the results of a survey from the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).
PEPANZ chief executive Cameron Madgwick said the industry reputation survey showed 60 per cent of the 1000 people who took part viewed the industry in either a neutral or positive way.
Madgwick said of those surveyed, 29 per cent reported a favourable opinion of the industry, 41 were neutral and 32 were unfavourable.
He said the industry was also working hard to deal with legitimate concerns about climate change.
"Natural gas is a clean, lower-emitting fuel that has a major role to play in reducing our net emissions by displacing less efficient fuels."
Simcock said PEPANZ was trying to put a misleading spin on the survey results.
"While PEPANZ is boasting publicly that 60 per cent of respondents have either a favourable or neutral view of our industry.
"Closer inspection reveals just 19 per cent of people actually think of the industry favourably, compared to 32 per cent unfavourably."
"By far the greatest reason people don't think favourably about the oil and gas industry is that oil is bad for the environment and increases climate change."