Oil and gas could transform East Coast - report

Photo / Paul Charman
Photo / Paul Charman

A Government report has highlighted the potential benefits of developing an onshore oil and gas industry on the North Island's East Coast.

The East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study was released today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

"The study shows that if significant oil discoveries on the East Coast were found they could become a real game changer for households and businesses in that region and across New Zealand," Joyce said.

"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."

Bridges said the study showed that an oil and gas industry could also help to address some of the region's social woes.

"There are areas of the East Coast that have high levels of unemployment and those communities only need to look to the example of Taranaki to see how an oil and gas industry operating in that region has meant more jobs and higher wages.

"The report allows the East Coast region to assess whether it wants to take those opportunities for jobs and economic growth."

Some councillors from Gisborne and the Hawkes Bay have criticised the report for being "overdue" and "a sloppy marketing campaign for the industry paid for by taxes and council rates".

Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie said the $130,000 report was riddled with errors, was clearly biased and provided inadequate information.

"The study makes some optimistic claims about benefits but glosses over the risks and has almost no worthwhile analysis of the economic impacts let alone social and cultural impacts of this industry should it come to dominate the region."

Hawkes Bay Regional Councillor Liz Remmerswaal said the study was inconsistent and selectively quoted from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's (PCE) interim report on fracking.

"The PCE report also provides evidence on how reinjection processes used in fracking operations overseas have caused significant earthquakes. The [latest] report is not only silent on these concerns, it recommends the reinjection of waste products from the drilling process."

The Green Party also voiced its opposition to oil and gas development in the region.

"The Government should shed its obsession with petroleum and look to create clean green jobs - jobs that are good for people and the planet," the party's energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said.

The Government should focus on stemming the manufacturing crisis before it sold the East Coast to foreign oil companies for a quick buck, he said.

"The most likely East Coast oil and gas development scenario, which is backed by data from the Crown entity GNS Science, creates only 199 jobs. In contrast, 910 manufacturing jobs were lost in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay area in the first three years of this John Key Government."

- APNZ

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