Westward Ho: Who’s in Charge Here?

We’ve had lots of opportunities to observe operations on the drillship — often better at night when it’s all lit up. The difficulty is in interpreting what we are seeing. Support ships come in and out. Cranes transfer people in cages from one to the other. Other cages and pipes inside the derrick go up and down. Inflatables zoom around. Divers drop over the side of the NBD. I should have done oil drilling procedures 101 before coming out here. We understand they can’t while we’re so close but don’t know for sure. However, it is clear they are not drilling yet, despite saying they planned to start yesterday. Great statement yesterday from Labour leader David Cunliffe, about the huge risks of drilling — until you realise he hasn’t committed himself to anything. There is no policy to stop deep sea drilling. We need to keep working on Labour especially on the climate aspect.

Meanwhile the government is totally missing in action. Having rushed through draconian legislation to stop deep sea oil protests, they are taking no action to enforce it. We have heard nothing from the authorities. Anadarko has been hung out to die. Other oil companies interested in coming here will take note. They are missing in action on environmental protection. Simon Bridges says they are “putting the oil drilling industry through the wringer” yet their new EPA approved the emergency oil spill response plan without seeing it, let alone evaluating it. They are missing in action in their accountability to the public.

Having told the public deep sea drilling is no more dangerous than shallow drilling, though the consequences would be “significant”, Amy Adams has been caught out hiding a report showing it as seven times more dangerous and the consequences would “catastrophic”. It leaves one asking “who is in charge here?” Obviously, the US oil industry.

15 thoughts on “Westward Ho: Who’s in Charge Here?”

  1. This comment brought back some memories:

    I should have done oil drilling procedures 101 before coming out here

    What you are describing are “oil scouts” who are essentially spies. The larger companies would employ or hire them to keep an eye on what was happening in a relatively unexplored area. The scouts would know exactly want was going on, depths of wells, oil or gas production (back then gas was worthless and the wells were shut in), type of muds, coring depths etc. This information was then used when the Provincial Government had their next oil lease sales. The larger companies were able to out bid the smaller companies who had made the original discoveries. Of course it wasn’t all one way, the small oil companies would use diversionary tactics to try and fool the scouts.

    A number of years ago I had a couple of friends who worked as Oil Scouts and they always had lots of interesting tales to tell one of which was that they were always more loyal to fellow scouts and much information was passed along at the local watering hole.

    Here is a link to some of their activities:


  2. I have been listening to talkback recently and a common complaint is everyone, even the greenies use oil derived products on a daily basis. I just want to understand how you reconcile this with protesting against oil exploration. If someone who refused to buy oil products was protesting they would have a far stronger argument. Who here is willing to give up overseas or national flights? Do you all have electric cars or cycle? Do you refuse to by things made from plastic? If the answer is no then you are hypocrites. If the public really supported you they would be reducing demand. Not happening though is it.

    1. Talkback: there’s your problem.

      Oil: until we move entirely on to renewables it’s basically impossible not to use a bunch of oil in your daily life.

      Logic: it is not your friend, arguments are not won by the pure of soul, but by sound reasoning and solid facts. Science, eh.

      A bike: yes I do, and it is also made with a good deal of oil, for a start in the fertilised food I have to eat to operate one.

      The public: are price sensitive, people not buying things just makes them cheaper, and the oil and coal industries are already massively subsidized through dropping their greatest costs on the public.

      Hypocrites: at least we’re not trolls, Murry.

      1. Yes it is an interesting exercise to remove oil and coal from one’s daily life which I have been working at.

        For me the direct use has mostly been easy.
        1. Carless since Jan 7 – more walking
        2. Electric mower for about 3 years
        3. I cannot avoid use of diesel powered public transport though that is far more efficient than any private fossil fuel burner. Electrified public transport is returning.

        But I still have a 2 hp 4stroke air cooled Honda outboard. It was last used February 2011 when by using tides and currents I managed 120 km at 16 km/hr for 5,5 litres of petrol. Use is rare. The canoe is normally under sail (9m²) but that does not work on rivers nor in absence of a suitable breeze at sea.

        Indirect use of oil and coal is far harder to avoid.
        The PV system, the efficient appliances, deliveries and purchases all have their fossil fuel components. A carbon tax would hasten the change from diesel to electricity in public transport, deliveries and much else.

        Living with other persons means the desires of others and their glamours, constantly reinforced by advertising have to be contended with. I have often wished those who look to the teachings of the buddha Gautama, Krishna, Christ, and Muhammad among others, could take counsel from their relevent teachings and examples.

        Here’s the irony, despite some major drawbacks, I once had no vehicles or fossil fuel use. I traveled on trams or trolley buses if I could not walk or cycle, I was part of a household that supplied almost all our own food and bought very little. All electric power was from renewables.

    2. Murray, I built an electric car and have been driving it since 2008.
      The issue Murray is not that we all must immediately stop all use of oil. In fact we can not do so as so much of our current systems are predicated by it. However, we must start to reduce fossil fuel use and dependence as soon as possible. Drilling at this time for more oil 1500m below the sea of our shores is therefore crazy. The economic benefits from this for NZ are very small when compared to the risks. We must make the use of solar energy and other alternatives less costly than burning the ever harder to reach remains of fossil fuels miles below the ocean floor. Stopping the trillion dollar annual tax subsidies given to the fossil fuel companies is a start. Stopping exploration in entirely unsuitable locations another.

    3. It takes Murray a long time to comprehend something which is why he is addicted to squarkback… there it all is nonsense and tommy rot so nothing to comprehend!
      It would be a waste of time to try to explain to Murray that the reason for protest is much more to do with the threat to the environment from a drilling operation at extreme depth with no plan for capping in the event of an accident, and any equipment that could deal with a large oil spill weeks away in Singapore. And Murray and his friends couldn’t possibly conceive that such a spill would be quite different to the Rena (which was contained) until it happened. All these notions are way beyond his comprehension and those on his favourite radio channel… because that is the channel for small minds and nonsense and Murray is happy with that. So just leave him be folks.

    4. Talking of hypocrites…..

      Furthermore, there is something you need to understand Murray. Taking a simplistic approach to the problem will not solve it. The world has been aware of the problem at an international level since at least 1991 when the original Kyoto Agreement was signed – that’s over 2 decades ago. Had the developed nations really taken the warnings on board and enacted policies to back up their words the economies would be in a far better state and we wouldn’t now be looking at what will become draconian measures. The easiest way to look at it now is to see that the world now has a limited budget of GHG emissions if we are to stay within the 450 ppm CO2 equivalents calculated to be the limit to avoid catastrophic warming. (this may be an optimistic target with respect to limiting heating – but as its a fairly universally accepted figure lets run with that). Now on this page on the right you will see the gadget with the running monthly concentrations of CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory ( the most consistent set of recordings for CO2 since the 1940’s) and it is constantly heading up. We have about 20 years left to stop at our current rate. The thing is… and this is where your concerns come in .. is that obviously the world cannot simply go “cold turkey” of burning fossil fuels. The economies of the world are geared to the burning of fossil fuels. Everyone recognises that, some, such as yourself and those on squarkback seem to think that there is no other way, but there you are very wrong. Governments have had the opportunity in the past to enact policies that would have reduced our dependence – they have also said some very fine words saying what they will do as well, but they have consistently failed to put their words into strong action apart from one or two – Denmark comes to mind). What this means is that the window for action is rapidly closing and your children and grandchildren and mine will be left with the resulting mess and very little leeway in which to do something. The resulting downturn in the world economy will not be pleasant.

      1. “The easiest way to look at it now is to see that the world now has a limited budget of GHG emissions if we are to stay within the 450 ppm CO2 equivalents calculated to be the limit to avoid catastrophic warming. (this may be an optimistic target with respect to limiting heating – but as its a fairly universally accepted figure lets run with that). ”

        See here for what i’m talking about (a recent hot tweet on this very page) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/pu-eie112213.php

    1. Not so obscure, Murray, seeing as we’ve been allocated our very own Troll!

      By the way, do you write your own material? Seems to be wearing a bit thin.

    2. This just may be the dumbest thing he’s said. Truly, we are talking dumb-on-stilts.

      And, yeah, the oxymoronic aspect of plaguing a blog in order to try to convince its denizens that no-one cares what they think is often overlooked by the irony-impaired… 😉

  3. Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.

    John Stuart Mill

    One of the hallmarks is believing that if people disagree with you it’s because they can’t have taken in your self-evidently obvious (to you) point, so you just need to repeat it for a fourteenth time…


  4. Good on you Thomas for walking the talk re the car, you are one of the few. I’m all for cutting back on oil when better sources of energy are affordable. However if oil companies can afford to drill 1500m for oil at huge expense and still have it be more competitive than alternative fuels, then that just shows how far away alternative fuels are. Keep it safe, keep it ethical and keep it local if we are to use oil.

    1. Murray, unless you know something that the rest of us don’t, not a drop of the oil from that deep see drilling will end up on our shores, unless in form of an oil spill. The drilling might as well be at the other side of the Earth for that matter. The pollution threat however, that is ours.

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