September 24, 2008

Permits Put Spotlight on Energy


THE sheer size of the Government's latest release of Taranaki onshore petroleum exploration permits underlines the energy industry's continued importance to New Zealand, says the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand.

On Monday, Associate Energy Minister Harry Duynhoven announced the allocation of nine exploration blocks to a range of energy companies, including three new junior explorers.

PEPANZ executive officer John Pfahlert said the allocation showed how important the exploration industry was -- despite recent introduction of government policy favouring renewable energy.

"Without gas-fired power stations this winter, New Zealand would not have been able to keep the lights on," he said. "Half the gas produced in New Zealand is used for electricity generation, producing 22% of our power requirements.

"These statistics demonstrate the need to complement a renewable energy programme with an active and progressive exploration and production industry. Without it, our whole economy will suffer."

Mr Pfahlert said New Zealand had sufficient gas reserves for electricity generation for at least the next 10 years, but exploration must continue so there can be security of supply past that point. And while finding gas was important, so was finding oil, he added.

"Energy security and self-sufficiency is a global currency. The more oil and gas we find, the more we increase our energy wealth."

That brought with it a range of very significant economic and social benefits, which were often overlooked, he said. "The converse is equally true -- soaring power and fuel prices, which we're experiencing now, are a direct result of policies that marginalise the oil and gas exploration sector."

* Greymouth extends work: Page 9

(c) 2008 Daily News; New Plymouth, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.