Date ArticleType
11/29/2017 Member News
Opinion: Oil and Gas Still Needed While Alternative Energy Sources are Developed

Opinion: Oil and gas still needed while alternative energy sources are developed

Last updated 15:23, November 17 2017

Seismic survey vessels strictly apply the Department of Conservation's Code of Conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals say MP Jonathan Young.

Greenpeace has been blasting in Taranaki recently, however its condemnation of a proposed seismic survey off the Taranaki coast is an outdated and unnecessary piece of rhetoric that fails to take into account the facts.

These days all seismic survey vessels strictly apply the Department of Conservation's Code of Conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals. Operators must prove they comply with the sound level thresholds in the Code.

As well as that, Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems are used to track marine mammals, and two independent observers are on board to stop operations if whales or dolphins are detected.  In Taranaki the observers are members of local hapu.

The proposed survey programme has the potential to identify reservoirs of natural gas (which has half the carbon footprint of coal) that could further support an industry that underpins the Taranaki economy.

New Zealand's skill and care in extraction leads the world. It's an industry that has created employment for over 7,000 people in Taranaki, many highly skilled, high value jobs. 

And it's an industry that invests in our community including schools, iwi, sporting organisations, youth, community organisations, and the arts.

While alternatives to fossil fuels are being developed we still need oil, as approximately 40 per cent of oil is used for industrial, pharmaceutical and many other general purposes outside of transport. Some of these products include lipsticks, dentures, toothpaste, guitar strings, perfumes, colognes and contact lenses. 

Sports equipment such as golf balls, golf bags, footballs, football cleats, artificial turf, basketballs, tennis rackets, skis, soccer balls – all made, in part, with petroleum in one form or another.

Natural gas is cited as the reason why the USA has significantly reduced its emission levels, as coal fired electricity generation is converted to gas fired. Gas has been identified as the "transition fuel" between what has been and what is to come in a more developed renewable energy world.

Seismic surveying is closely regulated and monitored – and that's the case with modern primary industries in general. That's where doomsayers need to realise the world has moved forward.

Of course history is littered with examples of environmental malpractice – but in New Zealand, industries which utilise the resources of the land and sea have lifted their game dramatically. 

Farming, fishing, and the oil and gas industry, are all sectors that rely on natural resources. I have always been impressed with their regard and care for the environment because they know that a sustainable livelihood must come from a sustainable environment.

As a born and bred Taranaki local, I'm proud of what's been achieved in recent years and the growing awareness that we all have a part to play in protecting our ecology. I would not advocate for an industry if I was not confident in their culture and practices.

Farming, fishing and energy remain vital to the economic future of Taranaki. The leaders of those sectors are critically aware of environmental needs and of the importance to have the support of the public as they strive to continually improve their practices.

Alarmist, ill-informed talk is unhelpful and I would urge Greenpeace to talk with our industry leaders about the progress that's been made.

Jonathan Young is MP for New Plymouth, Opposition spokesperson for Energy and Resources, and Chair of the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee in Parliament.