Hey buddy, spare some change for the oil industry?


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The Government has just announced another $10m for petroleum data to be secured and supplied to the oil industry, paid for by, yes you. If it looks like a subsidy and acts like a subsidy – it is a subsidy. In this case a subsidy to find more oil we can’t afford to burn if we don’t want to cook the climate.

Steven Joyce’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment latest science investment round just announced it will give GNS $2.4m a year over four years to ‘develop new workstation-ready data products for the exploration industry.’ I know the oil industry is facing a low oil price at the moment but it’s hard to believe one of the world’s largest and most profitable industries needs a to go cap in hand to the taxpayer for a hand-out. This comes on top of $25m in previous years, $46m in annual tax breaks and benefiting from the forth-lowest tax plus royalty rate in the world.

It’s another case of picking winners in last century’s economy and indicative of the Government’s science priorities that this one grant was by far and away the biggest recipient of the total $96m science investment round. In fact, the average amongst the 48 successful applicants was $500,000 a year and this oil application received $2.4m. To put this in context, over the four years of funding these oil funds could have housed approximately 375 refugees at current rates, paid for 500 hip operations or put solar panels on 1000 homes. I support increased spending on science and innovation particularly since we are ranked in the bottom half of the developed world but how is giving petroleum data to oil companies at all innovative?

I’m sure Government’s response is ‘don’t fret, this time there’s co-funding from the oil industry.’ Ever the master negotiator, Steven Joyce has secured $100,000 a year from global oil giants like Shell and Anadarko to match the taxpayer’s $2.4m a year.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

One answer they don’t have is – where is the oil? The Government has spent millions attracting oil companies to explore for oil, including ridiculously lavish hosting of oil executives, subsidies and tax breaks and they even called out the Navy and changed the laws when protestors got in the way but for all this there’s no new oil find. All along this was a Beverly Hillbillies-inspired gamble that took economic management to new levels of laziness. They wasted taxpayers’ funds in a so far futile hunt for black gold and rejected calls to transition to a clean energy economy. Perhaps we’ve dodged a climate bullet not striking oil though. Scientific experts and the International Energy Agency advise we can’t even afford to burn 70% of the oil we’ve already discovered if we want a safe climate let alone trying to burn more from deep off our coasts.

It’s time to call it quits on throwing taxpayers money to find more oil that can’t be found and we couldn’t afford to burn anyway.



  1. How ironical when vast tracks o the east coast are being opened up for oil exploration, and government said they have no money to fix the rail from Gisborne to Napier that they destroyed when they robbed the tack culvert/drain maintenance funding for Auckland rail and caused the rail washouts.

    So now with no rail how will they move the oil if they find some?

    Of course just use more trucks, and dirty transport, to make our travel dangerous & block our road’s and cause dirty air to breathe, – a good move there Nactional.

    Oh you Nats’, remember & buy more shares in your trucking company you Nactional plotters.

    • Pathetic, yes. But why would we expect anything else from them? I guess we should be grateful that its only 10 mill and not more…. sigh.

  2. What if the money was spent on a geological survey, conducted by a publicly owned research entity with deep geological expertise, where identifying potential oil deposits was only a side goal, and the data was made available to the general public (including oil companies) under an open data license? The downside is that oil exploration companies would still get access to the data without paying for it themselves. The upside would be that the money would be spent on gathering a range of useful geological data, not just focused on finding oil, and any kiwi person or company could get access to the data for any purpose.

  3. There is no money in New Zealand oil, given the current international oil price is at record lows, and demand isn’t that high either.

    The only way an oil company could make a profit in NZ is by:
    – Cutting corners that endanger the NZ environment.
    – Employing underpaid foreign workers in poor working conditions.
    – Having their potential risk written off by the New Zealand government (fortunately for oil companies current NZ law means they have no real liabilities if they cause an oil disaster).
    – Using inexpensive technology that is outdated and puts out of lot of toxic chemicals and C02 into the atmosphere, and don’t even start on how unsafe the equipment would be to operate.
    – Astronomically low royalties when compared to other countries.
    – Wink Wink Nudge Nudge corruption
    – Government funding and incentives

    • No it wouldn’t, at most it would put 30-40 million in the coffers each year (and it might even be negative and cost more money than is earned), and if there is an oil disaster the clean up bill would be in the billions, and the Nat PR team wouldn’t be able to get out of that one.

  4. Talking of subsidising the fossil fuel industry.

    NZ (along with Australia) is facing expulsion from the Pacific Islands forum because or increasing green house emissions and our total inaction on climate change.

    In our defence the NZETS is the scheme that we have paraded around the Pacific and the world as our flagship policy for combating climate change.

    National and Labour both support slightly different versions of an ETS, New Zealand First and the Greens want to see the Emissions Trading Scheme totally abolished.

    To help explain this difference in policy direction, Brian Fallow shows that the ETS, gives big polluters a free card, and actively allows them to increase their greenhouse gas emissions,. (While passing any costs there are onto the New Zealand taxpayer)

    “Carbon cuts just an illusion”

    “If the issue of international trading remains unresolved after the Paris conference, where would that leave New Zealand’s climate policy?
    One cannot say in limbo. Limbo was for innocent souls.
    Purgatory would be MORE like it.” BRIAN FALLOW

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