Bold statement in skies by ProGas

John Penno inspects a pro-drilling banner at Taieri Airfield yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery. The fight over the seabed is taking to the skies.

Pilot John Penno said yesterday he had been approached by a Dunedin businessman affiliated with the ProGas Otago group with a request to make a bold statement in the skies of Dunedin on behalf of the group.

He could not divulge details of what was planned, but he was preparing a large banner when visited by the ODT at the Taieri Airfield.

The businessman who commissioned Mr Penno said it would be a counterpunch to the actions of Oil Free Otago, such as last week's visit to the Anadarko drilling site and today's Banners on the Beach protest at St Clair Beach.

ProGas Otago's actions would be non-confrontational and ''add balance to the debate'', the businessman, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

''It's about Dunedin embracing the opportunity to be a supply base,'' he said.

''If commercial quantities of gas are found off the coast, I hope people have weighed up the benefits.''

Anadarko earlier this week started drilling off the coast of Otago. Members of Oil Free Otago will be protesting the drilling at St Clair Beach from noon today, as part of the Banners on the Beach protest taking place on about 10 beaches around the South Island.


80% off

It's not just the WWF and their cuddly pandas who want an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 (from 1980 levels, not from 2013 levels...), check out the Climate Change Commision website for what the UK is doing to get there. A lot more than here, I think.

Plastics very much do have an impact on global warming - how do you think hydrocarbons are made into plastics? Refine the oil (energy in), build a factory (energy in), make your plastic (energy in). Industry accounts for 20% of carbon emissions.

I'm glad to hear some positivity coming from the no camp. Saying no all the time does tend to get you labelled as a grumpy moaner - ask any parent ;) It's always better to say we don't want *this* because *that* is better and here's how we're going to do it or else you just come across as a complainer.

Just my opinion - and for the record I'm both pro-exploration and pro-renewables. I believe that we need exploration until we get to a sustainable point with renewables - remember NZ still relies on gas for power generation (25%ish IIRC)

80% reduction by 2050

IanP, we (humans) need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. The target of an 80% cut by 2050 has been recommended by the WWF

As the oil companies already have more known reserves on their books than we can safely burn I am opposed to them exploring for more anywhere in the world. However they want to drill for more fossil fuels here and I am with those saying "no". Building any infrastructure to support oil & gas exploitation here in Otago (such as extending the runway) is a waste of resources and fuel that should be used to prepare for a renewable energy powered future.

Plastics etc derived from oil and gas don't add to climate change. It is also possible to source biofuels and gas from plants and waste.

PS: I haven't made any assumptions about your energy use. It was you that assumed the protesters were just moaners who weren't doing anything about theirs.


reducing plastics

Ways forward for everyone of us is first of all to use less plastics which are, as IanP rightly pointed out, mostly made from hydrocarbons, read oil and gas. Statistics show that anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are made in the world every year. They’re 40% cheaper than  paper bags in grocery stores. And almost all of them end up in landfills or in the oceans after single use. Also I still fail to see any reason why we have to buy apples wrapped up in plastic on a styrofoam tray (both made from oil)  - except for the convenience of  supermarket chain. So there are many ways how we could and need to reduce our dependency of plastics. That alone would save  a huge amount of oil - in fact almost 10% of the world's oil production goes into plastics.

Then there are new technologies out there - ready to go, which use renewables to make bio-plastics. So our solar modules could be made of those. As a heads up, try this link and this link and this link

There is really no excuse to sit and do nothing. All that is needed is the political will by each and every one of us to try to make a difference (just start by using less plastic bags…)  and then we can still have a comfortable life even in a past oil era.

Those with their heads in the sand . . .

Expose their bottoms to all. This is a complex problem. What is called a"wicked problem" by those who teach Sustainability. It's not going to go away no matter what we do as we still have 100 years of carbon emisions in the real World bank. Its all about cumulative effects. We can minimise our impact on the Environment or ride it down into extinction like Slim Pickens on his A bomb. What I am seeing here is the old argument where people arent willing to sacrifice the lifestyle oil gives them. In a World where some deny Humans are even Animals and claim that God has "chosen" us this fails to surprise me. Nothing solves a problem like denying there is one. Is this what we have been reduced too? Fighting over a Multi-national's money and spending our Grandchildren's inheritance. Find another thing to love not money.

No answers

Fair points vivk about who 'we' are - I don't see much action on anyone's part, especially government though, and you didn't answer the questions about where it's acceptable to source our hydrocarbons from. All I hear is "not here". There's no getting away from the fact we need them, even in the medium term....

And don't assume that those in favour of exploration aren't doing exactly as you are, making their own energy difference however they can. I certainly am.

advocating for change to renewables

"Who is we?" asks IanP. It's households, communities, local and central government. Everyone needs to change the way our lifestyle is powered. From electric rail to home insulation. That is positive and go ahead.

But yet again the focus is on those protesting. You have no grounds IanP to suggest that those of us who are speaking up against new fossil fuel projects have not already begun making a difference to our energy use in our own lives.



Myths and answers

Myth 1: Protesters want to go back to grass - skirt technology.

Maybe the case, but how are they going to allow that to not happen without hydrocarbon products? What about all the plastic that goes into PV panels? What about the insulation on the wires to get it to your house? You might be doing a good thing for the planet but the products still need to exist - no hydrocarbons, no solar panels. What are you going to lubricate your turbine with?

Is it OK to import oil that isn't produced in NZ? Is it OK to keep producing in Taranaki as it isn't Otago?

I know climate change is real, but some answers and a way forward rather than the usual emotional "oil bad, think of the children" nonsense would be useful :)

I can make a difference too

Well said kasch. And Ian, I have a small car, a solar panel and insulation so good I average less than 10kw/hrs a day power use. I don't want anyone to say well done, I do it for my own benefit but I don't really think my efforts should be undermined by big oil drilling in deep water close to my home in order to prove that their share price is sound.


I keep hearing "we need to move to/upscale renewables" and "we need to position ourselves as leaders in alternative technologies". Who is "we"? It normally translates as "someone else".....

And where are these alternative technologies and jobs they'll create? Half a dozen jobs installing turbines, half a dozen installing solar panels, because let's be clear, if the technology goes large scale it won't be made in NZ, it'll be made in China because it's cheaper.

I agree that the world (and not just NZ) needs to transition to renewables but I'm disheartened that after watching them for over 20 years, very little has changed and even when wind farms are proposed they're always shouted down. Tidal power seems to have stalled and there is no incentive to install solar, people would rather have an extra bathroom.

We really do come across as a nation (or is it just region?) of moaners, not a positive, go ahead place. Do something positive, install some PV, buy a turbine, insulate your house, buy a smaller car, don't just protest and wait for someone else to start making a difference.

Educating on climate change

Thanks for that Samuel.Mann

I will listen to to those podcasts - conversations with experts on the subject of climate change. They must be sick of telling the world when so many are in denial.

Fossils protesting

After we all had a good laugh at fossils steering fuel-guzzling tiger moths through the sky and fishing boats into the surf desperately trying to make their point, we may have to look past the symbolism of their actions and realise that the bullies who are worried that they eventually may have to give up their fossil-fuel reliant toys are starting to panic. That's why I just want to quickly comment on two statements that seem to pop up again and again in that debate:

Myth 1: Protesters want to go back to grass - skirt technology.

Nice try, but it is actually the fossil fuel extractors who are facing backwards and seem to be unable to adapt and to realise that the old times are rapidly coming to an end. We can't pretend that we can have business as usual, have all the toys and play with them and who cares what comes after. It turns out you may not be able to just rubbish the facts and leave it to your kids to sort out or to try to survive with your dirty aftermath. Things are changing so fast you may find yourself falling off the cliff with all the other lemmings even in your lifetime. No hold on, lemmings are actually too clever, they don't really run off cliffs. It's just greedy humans that seem to do that, as witnessed for instance on Easter Island and on the Greek Islands of Antiquity when they cut down the last trees, because they were unable to change their habits in the face of climate disaster and society's collapse. You ignore the scientific facts at your peril!

Myth 2: We need oil and gas extraction in deep waters off the coast in NZ to live in modern times.

Try to look beyond your own backyard and see that truly modern societies are embracing and investing heavily in renewables, because they are in fact clean, efficient and economically viable already right now. Places in Europe have already shown that it is working, despite the petro-giants and nuclear industry lobbying heavily against it. Here in NZ it would work even better, because we already have such a high percentage of renewables today. Pushing that would help with tourism, the so called "clean and green" image of NZ and with developing new smart technology hubs (yes, even in Dunedin…imagine that!) that provide longterm employment. Because knowledge is the only investment into the future - definitely not ignorance, selfishness and greed.

Easy mistake, and I wish it were true

I hold very dearly the right to hold alternative viewpoints. Even the bizarre, and yes I have a job and nowhere is anyone advocating for the stone age. All of these I can let slide. But this one needs a response because it is simply wrong. Climate change is not about a benign warming - so if you are expecting to get the deckchairs out year-round in Dunedin you'll probably be disappointed. It would be better described as a "global energy increase". As we're seeing with the increase in hurricanes and the current disaster unfolding the UK, the world's climate systems are being stirred up. And yes the world has been warmer before, but not at this speed, the rate of melting of the icecaps is set to throw a serious spanner in the works for the next 100 years - we're in for a wild ride.

And while my degrees are in geography, I'm not a climatologist or a physicist, but I have recently spent an hour questioning Dr Andrew Tait of NIWA. Also I've spoken with Prof Bob Lloyd whose opinion I respect - and he was on the protest flotilla meeting the Noble Bob Douglas. I've also spoken with Professor Naomi Oresekes who has published widely on the scientific consensus that is climate change. I would encourage Its Me and others to listen to these conversations (available as podcasts at before dismissing the actions of their concerned neighbours.


World news

I see the pro lobby have fallen largely silent on the subject of climate change today. Hardly suprising given the headlines from Britain this week. I would ask that we don't burn too much oil in future as the effect on a stable climate will be catastrophic for mankind. True, there will be a short term gain if oil or gas are found close to Dunedin but let us not forget that much of the city is close to the sea.

Tthe 21st century must be renewably powered

Te Jackle - our economy currently runs on fossil fuels, we all know that and are advocating for a reduction in fossil fuel use and a rapid upscaling of renewables because if we don't we will cause more climate change and ocean acidification. You are saying we aren't allowed to say anything until AFTER we have made the change- that is nonsense. Go read this week's ODT weekend magazine, the technology already exists.

Raymondo- the pro-renewable people are educated business people, academics, retired folk, students and workers. Only in your imagination are there non working time wasters. Name calling is not debating.

It's Me- Do you think the people of Australia will join you and say "we could do with it a few degrees warmer"? Extreme weather is one of the consequences of climate change. More Arctic weather moving south because of changes to the jet stream is bringing blizzards to the Southern USA while the snow melts in Russia. A warmer atmosphere holds more water leading to increased rain falls and flooding. I doubt the people of England are saying "bring on climate change" right now.


Sorry raymondo12 but it is nonsense to be looking for resources under the sea when there is such risk involved.  

We must look towards clean renewable energy for the hundreds of years in the future.


Bold statement

They got the money, but we have the people...

Absolutely brilliant

Funniest thing I've seen in ages, the protesters didn't know what to do with themselves. Well done ProGas Otago, can we have more of the same?

No new-fangled technology on the horizon

Samuel, has that wind turbine produced enough alternative technology to allow you to post your comments on this thread? And to the rest of the anti -fossil fuel technologists, where are your alternative technologies you keep bleating about? Until you have this magical alternative stop using the benefits of oil to complain about it and start practising what you preach.

You all appear to be waiting with bated breath for this knight in shining armour to ride in with this new-fangled stuff all created using your wind power or dried mud. I think it will take the form of grass skirts, flax foot weer and horses and until this magical new age technology has been sourced I for one will be using the comforts that oil based products are bringing.

Well done, Mr Pilot

Naysayers are such noisy people! -- I am reminded of former US VP Spiro Agnew, an otherwise particularly uninspiring politician, but who did come up with one memorable phrase: the nattering nabobs of negatavism. Nice to see a wee dash of positivity in the skies today (and towed by a lovely vintage yellow Tiger Moth).

Bring on gas exploration

The laugh's on the anti oil folk. Bring it on, we need exploration and we need it now. What a great opportunity for the city to get massive growth and jobs. Yahoo!! As far as comments about climate change have a look out your window and consider Dunedin Summer. Bring on climate change we could do with another few degrees here in Summer. Let's face it climate change is natural - you may not know but a long time ago we had an ice age.

Gosh, only radical time wasters

Gosh, (is that how you say it?) only radical time wasters are allowed to express their opinion eh? Not so fast, Mister/Ms!

Pro-development people and their ideas are what we in NZ are all about. We are the kind of people who put NZ on the map.

A few, up to 300 complainers on the beach, are not going to win any friends to promote the business of running a country or community that wants to live in the real world.

Alternative energy is not efficient and certainly not economically viable now. Not working is not the only thing such windmills have in common with its "green" supporters.


Nice try ProGas

Ha ha ha. The pro - oil counter protest was such a joke. I felt second hand embarrassment for those of you who were on those boats and in that plane. How ignorant/arrogant can you get, gosh.

Violent language

"Counterpunch"- non confrontational, really? Charming language from this anonymous businessman.

Why are so many Progas supporters determined to remain anonymous? Is it because they don't want to be identified as climate change ignorers?


We have weighed the benefits, they're not enough

The "anonymous businessman" asks us to "weigh up the benefits".  Well, Mr A, I have and I'm afraid they are lacking when weighed against the risks and actualities of the possible finds:   

1. The risks of local/regional pollution are too great and this country has almost no capacity to deal with it.  The threat to our tourism and biodiversity is too great.  

2. The actuality of climate change is damaging our world, using already known fossil fuel reserves commits us to crazily dangerous increases in energy in the earth's systems. We simply cannot afford to go looking for any more oil or gas - arguments that 'if we don't drill, someone else will' are a naive denial of responsibility.  

3.  I don't think the city needs another boom and bust extractive industry - we would be better to be positioning ourselves as leaders in alternative technologies (such as the world leading wind turbine currently spinning away two above me). 




Taking the message to the skies

Good for you ProGas Otago and John Penno!

Welcome to Anadarko and greetings to all who can see the sense in looking for the resources we use every day and will need for hundreds of years into the future...

Big banner that

You'd need a huge plane to drag a sign with enough letters on it to read, 'Formally Pro Oil but now just Gas Otago'. I wonder which oil industry marketing team came up with this stunt? [abridged]

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