Oil or gas find matter of when, not if: Whiley

 The level of oil and gas exploration scheduled off the Otago coast shows it is a matter of when, not if, commercial quantities are found, Dunedin City councillor Andrew Whiley says.

Mr Whiley, who is also a spokesman for Pro Gas Otago, made the comments after attending a public information session on oil and gas exploration, where it was revealed ''exploration drilling'' was scheduled to happen eight times between now and the end of 2018.

A timeline supplied to the Otago Daily Times showed unconfirmed drilling was scheduled to happen twice next year.

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals national petroleum manager Kevin Rolens told the ODT the timeline was based on ''programmes of work'' supplied by oil and gas companies.

Mr Whiley, who was at last Thursday's meeting, admitted surprise at the level of activity off the coast, but hailed it as great news for the city's economy.

''I was delighted when I saw that, to be honest.''

The level of activity showed oil and gas companies were ''confident'' of finding something and indicated it was a matter of when, and not if, commercial quantities would be found.

Cr Jinty MacTavish, who was also at the meeting, said it was alarming that until last week

Dunedin people had not been told about the level of scheduled activity off the Otago coast.

''The level of information that to date has come out of Wellington around this stuff, in terms of community consultation and community engagement, has been ... abysmal.''

The threat posed by global warming meant any exploration activity was worrying, and the science on climate change showed deep-sea drilling was a ''really dumb'' thing to be doing.

There was a ''real tension'' for those who on one hand were concerned about global warming, but on the other supported exploration off the coast.

Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Danielle Trilford criticised last week's meeting as a ''PR stunt''.

''At no point were Dunedinites asked if this is the direction that we want to see our energy development to go,'' she said.

Mr Rolens said oil exploration involved a ''series of steps''.

''For example, exploration can begin with the reprocessing of existing data, followed by new data gathering through seismic surveying, and may result in the drilling of an exploration well, which supplies a lot of important physical information about a resource.''

At each of these stages permit-holders - who had exploration rights to a defined area - could decide to withdraw from exploration.

''While the work programmes of permit-holders in the Canterbury and Great South Basins have them scheduled to undertake seismic surveying or exploratory drilling in the coming years, some have yet to reach commit or surrender points - so we cannot confirm absolutely if the activity will take place.''

Mr Rolens also confirmed Searcher Seismic Pty Ltd had applied for a ''prospecting permit'' covering a large area off the Otago coast in March.

''This is classed as a non-exclusive petroleum prospecting permit application and, if granted, would allow the company to gather data and then on-sell that data to interested parties.''



Styly1, everywhere you stand, there is a flux of methane upwards from ground to atmosphere, sometimes more over existing gas fields and marshes, sometimes less, but always there. The concentration of atmospheric methane is about 1/250th of that of CO2. And its residence time in the atmosphere is only about 1/10th of CO2, before it decays to....CO2 and water. So although it is a more efficient absorber of infrared, by an order of magnitude over CO2, its effect is very small. It is not a trigger of interglacials, but rather a consequence of them. The last interglacial before the present Holocene ( last 10,000 years) was the Eemian about 200,00-100,00 years ago, when temperatures were markedly higher than now. Yet runaway emissions of methane then, did not keep forcing a hotter and hotter climate. Why? Because glacials and interglacials are set in place by the inexorable changes in the earth's orbit around the sun and its rotational axis - the Milankovitch cycles. The earth has been sliding towards the next ice age for about 7,000 years now, ever since the interglacial optimum, when temperatures were quite a bit higher than today.

You have certainly grossly

You have certainly grossly overstated the case, Peter. Namely ‘the science on climate change showed deep-sea drilling was a ''really dumb'' thing to be doing' and ‘the irreversible damage that will be inflicted on the planet if fossil fuels are found and extracted locally'. The well drilled offshore from Dunedin was not particularly deep-water, by modern standards. And if it had been a discovery, its impact on the global climate would be infinitesimal. Yes, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen by 50% from the level at the start of the Industrial Revolution, and yes, CO2 is an absorber of infra red radiation at around the 15 micron wavelength, therefore has a warming effect on the atmosphere. But not much!

Global temperature has risen less than 1 degreeC since the late 1800's, and not at all in the last 17 years, even while the CO2 level has been rising by 0.5% per annum. New Zealand produces less than 0.1% ( 1 part per 1000) of world anthropogenic CO2 emissions, of which its gas use provides about ¼. In the event of an economic gas discovery offshore Dunedin, this figure might rise a bit over the longer term, to slightly more than sfa of global output. At the same time, reputable satellite based studies have demonstrated a marked greening of the world over the last quarter century, courtesy of increased CO2 - trees and plants like it!

So for you to talk about ‘environmental destruction' with respect to an offshore Dunedin gas discovery is hyperbole. Given NZ's energy mix and limitations, the substitute for gas fired electricity generation in the future will dominantly be coal or nuclear. To me, you seem to be espousing anti- gas nimbyism masquerading as misplaced concern for global temperature change.

Water vapor greenhouse

Styly1: Here on earth, water vapor keeps us warm, not carbon dioxide and not methane. As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is ineffective compared to water vapor; also methane is even more dominated by water vapor because water vapor is more plentiful and because the wavelengths of outgoing heat that are absorbed by methane are also absorbed by water vapor. In the presence of water vapor methane and carbon dioxide are not significant greenhouse gasses.

Another reason why you should not be concerned is that methane in the atmosphere decomposes into carbon dioxide after a few years.

Read my lips

The only clean burning fossil fuel I know is methane, which we need to start capturing and using before it enters the atmosphere. This is the really big bad green house gas which will change the climate irreversably and is being released by the melting permafrost amongst other things. Just for those who don't understand the climate cycle pre ice age it's warming and then freezing as more and more methane is released.

Clean sweep

Well, Velcro. What you call "sweeping assertions" most people would call phenomena clearly associated with anthropogenic global warming, to which the burning of fossil fuels - including natural gas - makes an enormous contribution. This is not controversial in the civilised world: it is neither misleading nor unproven. As you know.

The argument on this page seems rather to be about whether a particular form of economic activity should be encouraged *knowing full well* that it is environmentally destructive. Mr Whiley thinks it ought to be, Jinty McTavish has an eye to the future and thinks it ought not. My original post was simply to express support in Ms McTavish, a councillor who has the interests of future generations at heart.  

Back at the scaremongers

Just ProGas? Fine. I googled the name before I contributed in order to check and my eye fell on the "Pro Oil and Gas" name used in David Farrar's Kiwiblog. Just goes to show that if you're interested in accuracy you shouldn't look to the Right. 

I'm not sure what the "anti-oil" argument is supposed to be that I have lost. Do you mean the "anti-fossil fuel" argument? That debate is alive and well - your contribution here testifies to it.

No one would deny that gas is cleaner burning but it is light years from being a "green" source of energy. When you say it is the "greenest" of the fossil fuels I think you mean it is the "least worst."

In any case, it is not an "either or" situation (either gas or coal/oil) but rather a cumulative one (gas and coal and oil). There is, for example, no evidence to suggest that the current global boom in natural gas extraction is doing anything to slow the burning of coal. Consider the situation in the US: coal formerly destined for thermal electricity generation is now just exported.

Sweeping assertions

Well, Peter. You make a number of sweeping assertions there, but justify none of them. And you misquote the IPPC's figure on economic impacts, which has been discredited anyway. Stick to the issue at hand rather than spout misleading and unproven global generalities, would be my advice.

The McTavish Crusade 2

Apart from the fact that burning petroleum fuels doesn't cause any significant global warming, there is another reason why Jinty McTavish and her associates are wrong in saying that increasing our oil reserves results in more global warming (paraphrased).

She is wrong because increasing the reserves doesn't increase petroleum consumption. In other words the amount of oil and gas being sold per month is independent of how much is still in the ground.

She might say that discovering the oil means that more petroleum is consumed over time. But this is wrong also: the total petroleum consumed over time is the same irrespective of when a particular gas/oil basin is consumed. A gas-field could be discovered now and consumed over 20 years, or it could lie undiscovered for 400 years before being consumed. It is the same quantity of carbon dioxide generated in each case. The new Ice Age could be here sometime in the next 400 years, so it is best to find the oil/gas and extract it as soon as possible.

The McTavish Crusade

Peter: Jinty McTavish is wrong to say that we should be worried about oil exploration and drilling. She is saying that increasing our oil reserves results in more global warming, but it doesn't:

For a start carbon dioxide released by burning petroleum fuels has not been proved to cause global warming. The faith-based pseudo science from the IPCC and their neo-hippy end-timer followers tells them that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and will cause warming. The real science (without the politics and religion), also recognizes that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but that its effect is insignificant compared to the vastly more dominant greenhouse gas, water vapour.

Councilor McTavish and the average school teacher seem to enjoy scaring 9 - 10 year olds and that is why they misrepresent their faith-based mythology as being factual. Global warming happened from 1976 to 1998 due to natural causes. Before 1976 there was global cooling. From 1998 to now there has been 16 years of no change in global surface temperature. Over that time there has been zero global warming.

Some of the faithful say that this is a tragedy and they hope that one day global warming will return, but I say that they should stop trying to scare young children and the gullible with their apocalyptic faith-based theories and stop claiming that their theory is scientific.

Just ProGas Otago

I believe it's just ProGas Otago Peter no oil at all. Yet more scaremongering from your crowd who had lost the anti-oil argument a long time ago because it was never about oil off Otago coast, ask Jinty about it, she's admitted it would have been less than 1% of finding oil.

You don't deep sea drill for coal which is the dirtiest fossil fuel, one of the biggest causes of CO2 emissions and what most people on all sides want to get rid of.

Natural Gas on the other hand is the cleanest and greenest of the fossil fuels, is clean burning, can reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% near immediately and is what's being explored off Otago coast. 

Something to do with climate

You might have missed this line quoting Jinty McTavish in the article above:

The threat posed by global warming meant any exploration activity was worrying, and the science on climate change showed deep-sea drilling was a ''really dumb'' thing to be doing.

Jinty's point is just incontrovertible. Andrew Whiley and his supporters can endorse oil and gas exploration if they choose but, at the very least, they need to acknowledge the irreversible damage that will be inflicted on the planet if fossil fuels are found and extracted locally. 

A useful exercise might be for Whiley / Pro Oil and Gas Otago to give a talk at my kids' school, explaining to 9 - 10 year olds just why we should encourage an industry that is, inter alia, dramatically raising global temperatures, causing ocean acidification and mass species extinction, and that threatens our very ability to feed ourselves. And then tell those same kids why we are not prepared to forego 0.06% of GDP (IPCC's estimate) to switch to alternative forms of energy and cut energy wastage in order to secure their future.

I won't hold my breath.


Unfortunately if we don't find new gas and oil, prices for everything will increase faster. Even if as individuals we could all afford the alternatives, how much faster will resources need to be pulled out of the ground so that they can supply the demand to these new technology. Not to mention the waste as we throw away the old. Yes we do need a long term plan, but not having a gradual change also has large negatives both economically and environmentally.


Exploring activity

Not sure why Jinty MacTavish is alarmed, this is minimal exploration activity compared to what goes on in Taranaki. Maybe she should be paying more attention to what's actually happening around her instead of spending most of her time posting on social media sites.

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