When I look back at the recent oil & gas symposium there were a number of things that struck me. Firstly was Mayor Yule summation at the end. If I was to understand him correctly, he acknowledged two important issues for us to consider. One was that the geology of the Hawkes Bay was so difficult as to make any claims about the value of potential reserves difficult to substantiate. The other was that the industry had to date not been well regulated in Taranaki in respect to public and land owner engagement and that if the industry were to come into Hawkes Bay any regulations need to be considered on a regional basis. Personally I was encouraged by Mayor Yules comments as it indicated to me that he truly listened to all the speakers with an open mind. I trust that he is genuine in his comments unlike your reporter who seems to have a very one eyed view on proceedings.
I am someone who likes to stick to the facts and when I am unsure of claims that are made I have no hesitation in asking questions. Hence I wondered how did Jane O’Neill know that trucks on her road stuck “diligently” to the 50km speed limit? It was the use of the word diligently that I found interesting because I had got the sense that her speech had not been written by herself. The language didn’t seem to fit her personality. I considered my question to be the simplest way to test this hypothesis and I’m afraid her answer proved to me that this was the case. I have no beef with Mrs O’Neill and am happy that she had a pleasant experience with TAG Oil. Eventually they had to get it right.
I was also somewhat surprised to see that the expert in the valuation of the oil and gas fields was not a geologist or industry rep but the CEO of Venture Taranaki, a business development agency. It seemed somewhat strange that the field valuation came from him and not the speakers from New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals or the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association. Perhaps these gentlemen both had more knowledge of the fields value than a business promoter. Apache pulling out of the farm-out agreement with TAG Oil last year would also indicate to me that the East Coast is not the valuable resource it has been touted as being. Why would Apache walk away from so much potential revenue?
Your reporter on the day has in the past claimed that he likes to stick to the facts. I just wish that he would state them. In his opinion piece (Outpouring of views on oil search 15/10/13) he claimed “everyone drove home on petrol-driven cars”. Use of the word everyone implies that 100% of people drove to the symposium. Evidence of only one person in attendance not driving to the symposium would prove this statement unfactual, and it was just as well that I saw one attendee pull up, and park her bike outside the symposium doors in sight of all those who attended, including your reporter. I would suggest that if your reporter is going to continue making wild claims then his value to Hawkes Bay Today diminishes accordingly as it brings into question information printed in every article published under his byline.
Overall I thought the oil & gas symposium was very useful for all those that stayed to hear all of the speakers and get a balanced perspective. I thought Mayor Yules summation was well considered and the catering was above expectation. I know we had some challenges in getting the symposium together but in the end personally I was pleased with the speakers & format. I would like to thank the Hasting District Council for putting the symposium on as it was a very useful way of bringing all the parties together in one place to better educate us all. I think all the speakers were respectful of each other, which took a lot of heat out of the discussion. I look forward to a future where we can discuss these issues rationally, freely, unemotionally and without the need to make personal attacks.
Submitted 16/10/13 Published 22/10/13