Joyce attempts to sell us a lemon | The Jackal

7 Mar 2013

Joyce attempts to sell us a lemon

Today, the government released a report (PDF) into potential oil and gas development on the East Coast, which claims that there could be a bonanza in the area that would create 2347 jobs.

Economic Development minister, Steven Joyce, also made a press release today gushing on about the benefits of oil exploration, but as usual failed to check his facts properly.

“East Coast communities could enjoy similar benefits to a region like Taranaki, where oil and gas operations contribute $2 billion to New Zealand’s annual GDP and supports more than 5000 regional jobs," said Joyce.

What a load of bollocks! A report (PDF) released in September 2007 found that 2% of those employed in the Taranaki region worked in the oil and gas industry, consisting of only 817 people employed by the entire sector. That's a far cry from the 5000 regional jobs Joyce is claiming exist.

Even an industry sponsored report (PDF) released in 2009 could only account for 3,730 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the entire oil and gas industry in Taranaki, and this was clearly an overestimation to try and promote the industry.

Contrary to that propaganda, in 2010 Statistics NZ reported the amount of oil and gas as well as other mining jobs in Taranaki stood at 2406. There's obviously not been an increase of 107% in employment in the sector since then, which makes Joyce's claims that 5000 people are currently employed in the oil and gas industry in Taranaki entirely false.

“Besides the potential economic benefit and boost to employment, the study gives a realistic assessment of the East Coast’s oil and gas reserves, what sort of infrastructure is required, as well as outlining the environmental risks.”

A realistic assessment? Hardly! What the report does claim is that oil and gas developments on the East Coast could add $18 billion to the national economy, but then says there's a 1% chance of this occurring. In my opinion, it's so unlikely to happen as to not be worth mentioning... But I guess in these hard economic and political times National is desperate for some good news even if it's obviously fiction.

In fact there are numerous things that are entirely unrealistic within the overdue report... Firstly it doesn't even adhere to the Terms of Reference the government set out, and fails to provide half of the information it was meant to. What's the use of a report that doesn't even meet its requirements to provide the information it was meant to?

Costing the taxpayer $130,000 to produce, the report doesn't properly acknowledge any risks involved in oil and gas developments on the East Coast, which is obviously news to the idiot Steven Joyce. The reports authors expect us to believe that there are no real potential hazards involved in the oil and gas industry that haven't been addressed, without providing any proper risk assessment to base that claim on. There's no mention for instance of what to do if a large oil spill occurred with the report assuming that it simply won't happen.

The report then somewhat contradicts itself by saying the geological analysis means commercial petroleum development in the region is highly unlikely... This doesn't stop the government using the other bits of the report to promote their plans for increased investment into oil and gas exploration though... Talk about blinded by dollar signs.

There is of course no proper assessment of the contribution to climate change from increasing the size of the oil and gas industry in New Zealand, just some waffling about added security of supply. Any real discussion about climate change appears to be outlawed within any government reports, or articles produced by the MSM for that matter... This despite there currently being some of the worst drought conditions in New Zealand we've ever seen, which are assuredly linked to continuing to burn large amounts of fossil fuels.

Why the government wants to increase the use of oil and gas in the face of such economic hardship the current conditions are causing instead of investing in clean and green alternatives is beyond me... Perhaps they're simply not aware that the same financial investment into clean technologies creates up to four times as many jobs.

Relying heavily on information provided by Apache Corp, who recently pulled out of exploring for deposits in the area and only last week had another exploratory well blowout, the report then goes on to cherry pick information from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s interim report on fracking (PDF) to make it appear there's no real risks involved... It also promotes the use of practices that have now been banned in many other developed countries.

But if that wasn't bad enough, the assessment report entirely fails to mention the Commissioners concerns apart from saying they don't need to be addressed before exploration commences... In other words, they want to go ahead even though the geography isn't appropriate, the practices they use are not safe and there are no plans to make them safer.

Clearly Steven Joyce is trying to sell us a lemon that nobody should buy.