Some perspective on RENA

There has been all manner of scare mongering about the oil spill of the MV RENA. It must be remembered though that this is a container ship not an oil tanker and so the amount of oil spilled is actually tiny compared could what could have been. While still bad it is nowhere near the catastrophe that politicians who should know better are desperately trying to make it out to be.

Maui Street posted an Infographic that tries to show the scale of the problem of RENA. Unfortunately it doesn’t. I have added on some perspective. The Greens and Labour can’t complain about that perspective because they decided to conflate MV RENA with deep-water drilling and so it bears some comparison.

For ease of use I have used the typical size of current NZ coastal tankers for measurement and the the recent Deepwater Horizon event in the US that Gareth Hughes is so exercised about.

Deepwater Horizon spilled the equivalent of 21 tankers of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, in contrast the oil spill of MV RENA will only be 5% of just one tanker.


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  • While that is true, deepwater horizon occurred in the gulf of Mexico, and this is right off the beach.  It’s a legitimate catastrophe for NZ.

    Appreciate it has nothing to do with deepwater drilling which I think is the point you’re making

    • The point I am making is that the oil spill is actually very small, and will likely be all over and cleaned up inside 4 weeks.

      More birds die during tropical cyclones and storms, we need perspective not scaremongering

      • Richarddanus

        Green party propaganda is all this is. Shouldn’t even be getting media coverage, but trust the greens to try and make this into a big deal!

  • Pingback: The facts on Rena – UPDATED « Homepaddock()

  • Homepaddock

    Another way to put it into perspective is to look at how many people have died.
    This is an environmental disaster which will have economic and social consequences but no human lives ahve been lost.

  • johnopkb

    I deeply empathise with the residents of areas which will be oil soaked for some time, and those who regularly visit and play there.  However, I can’t agree with statements that the Rena event constitutes NZ’s worst environmental disaster.  At worst, it will seriously affect a number of beaches for 5-10 years.  It is NZ’s worst maritime environmental disaster.

    Yet NZ’s freshwater, rivers lakes & streams, have been rendered unusable for recreation, for many years now and for an unknown future period, by continued breaches of natural and environmental law.  That is NZ’s worst environmental disaster.

  • Redbaiter

    Almost every issue the Watermelons take up is underpinned by lies, exaggeration and fear mongering.

    It is the way they work.

    It is how they induce the gullible to vote for them.

  • Anonymous

    Cam, thanks for putting up some very good perspective on the whole Rena issue…

    It is a disaster for sure, and will effect many many people for a long while, BUT it could have been far far worse as you sensibly show…

    It is amazing how political things get in this here country of ours….

  • Stuart Baker

    I think the point they’re making is that if the government is taking this long to clean up a SMALL oilspill, how are they prepared to cope with something caused by offshore drilling? If something went wrong with offshore drilling it’d be a much larger problem

  • Lofty

    Thankfully Cam, most NZr’s see throught the sensationalism & political lies promulgated by Normans & his Child MP Hughes, and followed on by that tragic figure of Goff, Mr photo opportunity cleaning the oil in my good shiny black dress shoes and suit.
    I won’t hold my breath waiting for the MSM to call them out over the missed opportunity comments etc, and directly ask, “what is it that you, Mr Normans & your Child MP would have done differently?”
    Or “Why in your years of influence with the labour party in Govt, did you not put action plans & resources into place, given your stated policy of increasing coastal shipping, and enhancing the possibility of this type of incident occuring on a more frequent basis?”
    Or “Why in your years of influence with the labour party in Govt, did you not insist on a comprehensive procurement program of oil spill recovery vessels & equipment, why did you not threaten to withdraw support, in defence of your stated policy of increased threats to the environment that would come about due to your “Green” parties stated policy of increasing coastal shipping in NZ?”

    Opportunist & worthless opposition.

  • Lofty

    Yes Stuart, if that is what they are trying to say, then they shoud come out and say just that, but they wont because they would get slaughtered.
    No they are trying to make political mileage out of an incident that has been handled most properly, given the resources and plans that are already in place.
    For goodness sake, as an aside, offshore drilling has ben taking place in NZ for bloody years…where do you think Taranaki is?

    Perspective people, perspective.

    Opportunist & worthless opposition.

  • kevin

    Gosh that maui street blog is an odd, disaffected place… I wonder how Piri Weepu feels about his image being used in that way? you would think John Key was at the helm of the stricken vessel. No one is thrilled with this Rena(l) outcome.

  • Alan

    It’s the short term effects it will have on the Mount business community including fishing coming into high season
    that is concerning. they would have run up overdrafts and would have been preparing to pay back. More money to be consolidated into long term debt yet again, hang in there it will come right.
    Don’t agree with John nopkp the dairy farmers are changing and enviroments are changing. there are some great planting programmes going on. the Raglan harbour is a prime example.
    if we hadn’t cut down our rain forests a100 yeras age we would not have a first world economy today . theres always a cost. Those beachs will be cleaned up in 6 months not 6 years.
    don’t exaggerate the truth, keep your cup half full please.

    • johnopkb

      You make my point Alan, the beach will be clean in a reasonably short time, the freshwater resources will take generations to self-repair if, and when, the degradations ever actually stops

    • johnopkb

      BTW, I never mentioned dairy farmers, you did. I would include lots and lots of polluters, including District Councils Alan, cheers

  • Lofty

    Yes Alan, that is the true sadness of this , what will be a relatively short term problem.
    The local economy revolves around the beaches and harbour.

    If I may sat Alan, some dairy farmers are changing, not all by any stretch, particularly the large “corporate” type farms.
    I see the shit going into the waterways virtually every day and not much planting, lower fert rates etc taking place.

  • Stuart Baker

    Lofty, why would they get slaughtered for making that point? Whether you’re pro or anti offshore drilling, shouldn’t the government be expected to have a plan, or make sure there is an effective plan, in place to clean up potential spills effectively?
    And deep sea offshore drilling, which is what is proposed is simply that – deeper than current offshore drilling. Which makes it less safe, and harder to prevent and minimise accidents.
    If we’re going to drill for oil offshore, we need to make sure we can deal with problems. And the lack of effective response to this miniscule problem is showing that we aren’t prepared for that.

  • Anonymous

    Labour are a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off, no one has a clue with what is going on, nor do they care.. It is all shoot from the hip, then go, “oh dam should not have said that”, then the task of lying to clean up their crap starts…

    Am happy that most of NZ are onto the behavior of the chickens with their heads cut off…

  • Lofty

    Stuart, They would get ‘slaughtered” in the sense that comparing this wee spill with some sort of catastrophic unthinkable type spill from off shore drilling is disingenuous, and leaves them totally exposed to major rebuttal arguments.

    1. We have barely started exploration surveys, let alone actually drill for anything, (other than existing operations)
    2. Controls and balances would be put into place well before “drilling” actually took place.
    3. Risk management plans would be drawn & instituted prior to drilling taking place, which would include automatic capping devices, evacuation procedures, SOP’s, recovery vessels, equipment etc etc etc.
    4 We have time to plan for events in offshore drilling operations, with Rena we had no time whatsoever.
    5 To blame the present administration is mere posturing from a position of safety. A bit like flinging shit from the sidelines when you are in a crowd.
    6. They state their intention to increase coastal shipping movements yet offer no protection from their potentially environmentally damaging policy.
    7. They are not credible in argument or action.

    I understand what you are saying, but I understand the blatant electioneering by the watermelons better.

    They are opportunist & worthless opposition

  • Roger Gower

    Another comparison. 1,700 tonnes of HFO is the equivalent of 45 domestic swimming pools. Hardly Deep Water Horizon or the Exxon Valdez.

    • Rightwing for life

      Exactly, I can’t understand why this is even getting media coverage. Just the greens trying to milk some cheap political points.

  • middleagedwhiteguy

    Have you ever seen such a contrived photo opportunity as this one????

    • Nick


  • Tim

    Remember Winston Peters bill boards at the last election.Good to see Phil Goof down on the beach in his shiny black shoes cleaning up Winton’s poo before anyone recalls they sat at the same cabinet table and droped poo all around the country.We NO Winston answer,what would Goof answer be ?

  • Roger Gower

    Of course once the wind changes to SW – the oil will go out to sea.

  • Paul

    People. Put aside your political leanings and listen for a second. The most important lesson from this incident, regardless of its scale in the scheme of maritime environmental disasters, is that we were unable to deal with it in a timely manner to mitigate the damage. This highlights how incredibly dangerous it would be to drill for oil in the deep ocean. Now switch your politics back on and cast your vote on 26th November in a way that ensures we don’t see a large scale oil spill on our priceless and beautiful coastline.

    • johnopkb

      And we must also demand an immediate moratorium on all coastal and international shipping in NZ waters…may as well include local fishing boats, whalewatch tours, dive charters, all of which carry fuel onboard and could rupture on hidden reefs

      • Rightwing for life

        You are right, next the greenies will want to ban cars and TVs. They need to get in the real world and stop there obsession with the ‘precious environment’. Oil is non-toxic, the greenies are trying to politicize a very minimal spill which won’t effect the environment at all.

        Drilling for oil is the sensible option for this country, and the risks are vastly overstated anyway. We need to get rid of the regulation and red-tape which is constantly impeding this process.

    • middleagedwhiteguy


      Which political party would have stopped this Swiss owned Liberian flagged ship being driven on to a charted hazard by an incompetent Filipino crew.

      Given that this ship was stuck on a reef, any ship coming to it’s aid risked the same happening to it.  Given the equipment to de-bunker the ship is not carried on board.  Given that the ship best able to assist had to de-bunker in Whangarei prior to attending to the Rena.  Given that the weather has stopped any attempt at removing more oil or cargo, and that the same weather would have made the deployent of booms and skimmers equally futile, what should we do?

      Given that occurences of this nature are thankfully very few and far between, how much do we invest in a ready reaction force?  Do we have one in every port?

      That would be like having a fire stattion in every street.

    • MrV

      Back the green party bus up, we haven’t even found oil yet.

    • kevin

      You stick to riding your bike forever, no problem… but, I need my car to drive to Work and Work from my car. The oil is here and it can be managed.

  • Lofty

    HA ha ha Paul chips in and insists that we ‘people listen” “Put aside our political leanings”

    Then proceeds to gush forth with green diatribe and urges us to vote in such a way as to lean the green way…funny bugger

    Paul, I will vote for a govt that understands the needs of the economy, and also has the wherewithall to effect measures & controls. That should fill your requirement above.
     That sure as oilballs ain’t the watermelons, or Labour.

    • Boss Hogg

      Lofty. I am with you.  Somewhat off the topic now, but I would be very interested to join a debate on the pros and cons of NZ becoming more of an oil economy.  It is clear that we have large resources, but it is also clear that these oil reserves are located in very challenging locations, not like the smooth, shallow waters in Taranaki.   I suggest that the biggest long term threat is actually the socialists getting into power for extended periods once the oil revenues are coming in.  Think about Norway.  Oil wealthy, extreme welfare, high tax, all children in daycare as babies as all parents have to earn a salary to pay the tax and on the horrible socialist existence goes.  That is why Helen visited every year to be as close to socialist heaven as possible, never mind that it is all North Sea Oil money in the socilaist money roundabout.

      I will stop my rave now, but I have spent time in Norway and am currently working in the oil and gas business based in Singapore as well as renewables biomethane industry so I am more than happy to take a debate with the “pauls” of the world if they can manage to retain logic and work with actual facts.

      Now back to the RENA – what a cluster fuck !!!!
      PSA is the biggest threat to the wider BOP economy, but this is just plain horrible.  All power to the clean up teams and volunteers

      • Rightwing for life

        It’s the silly left-wing regulations which are the problem here. Fact is that there is tons of oil out there which we should be drilling for and selling. The precious greenies moaning about the environment should move back to their caves. Deep sea drilling is safe and is needed if NZ wants to move forward.

      • Lofty

        Well Boss I am not sure if the oil & gas reserves are big or not, given that seismic surveying has not yet been done on a large scale.
        When it was tried a few months ago off the East coast, the luddites got a flotilla together to try & shut it down.
        The debate needs to happen sooner rather than later and I am happy to contribute to it.
        The political system to ensure the correct spending of any windfall is always going to be a pig in a poke I suppose.

  • Annon

    I am aware that one of the overseas majors doing oil exploration in NZ at the moment has plans in place to import a large quantity of equipment prior to drilling. If this accident had happened while they were drilling NZ would have a lot more equipment around to deal with such a spill.

    Perhaps we should welcome more oil exploration to NZ (from reliable companies) as it may result in less risk to our beaches and environment..

  • Rightwing for life

    The left wing needs to stop whinging, oil is made of organic material and it’s non-toxic. The people going on about ‘worst environmental disaster ever’ are just trying to score political points.
    Also, this should not stop deep see drilling. NZ needs to get rid of the red-tape and stupid regulations which are stopping us from mining the oil (same goes for the bullshit about not mining in National parks, and the fracking in Canterbury).

    • Eds59_9

      Oil may be organic, but then so is arsenic. Try eating either of them and I think you will find they are both toxic.

      • Boss Hogg

        At the risk of being extremely boring I can confirm that just about every aspect of Oil & Gas business is in some way toxic.  The word “Organic” does not help one bit  – it is all poisonous toxic shit.  But, we need it and we will continue to need it for a long time and there is more of than anyone wants to admit.  The oil companies don’t want the place awash in oil cos the prices go down and Greenies think that being past Peak Oil actually matters, it does not.  It just means the cost of extraction goes up a bit.  Keep the addiction feed just well enough to keep the user alive and the drug dealer wealthy – everyone (except the Green pillocks) happy.  The pillocks have no choice, and neither should they.

        Renewables will not replace oil as long as my bum points down, but with a foot in both camps high oil prices help both ways – got to love that.

        One last point before I get back to do some work, the words “deep sea drilling” and “safe”  are not easlity used in the same sentence.  Anything deep sea is just plain dangerous and difficult – fact, end of.  An extreme safety and quality culture is required for success.  This equals high cost. 

        Cheers for now. 

  • Ally

    I don’t want to knock anyone’s ship onto a reef here but is this site really “Whale Oil” or “Vote National”?

    Just look at this video to see that oil though originally derived from organic material, millions of years of pressure have turned it into something that is anything but compatible with organic material:

    Regulating, as one person put it, not just container ships and oil tankers but also smaller fishing and tour vessels is a little bit over the top don’t you think?  Anything containing more than a tonne of oil maybe but nothing smaller.

    When comparing the Mexico Gulf Oil Spill to this one, have you also compared the km’s of coastline affected in comparison to the total coastline of the countries?  No you haven’t.  We’re doing a pretty darn poor job of managing our coasts as it is without this mess to clean up too.  If you think drilling for oil will help us, just think of how screwed we would be if there was a spill like in the Gulf.  Do you really want us to be responsible for the total annihilation of Hector Dolphin?  There’s few enough of them left already thanks to all you folk wanting pretty beaches devoid of food for bait fish. 

  • Pablo

    Well done Whale, Blogs, the place where commentators with no technical expertise in what they are saying make comments about things they find interesting, then baitfish respond. Well done re the perspective and infographics issue, but note that very few of the people interviewed by the media have ever had the job of responding to or leading an oil spill from a stricken vessel. I have and it is legitimate for affected people to be angry and upset – they dont know where this will take them, But the others (the commentators and media) are in it for their egos and are fuelling the hurt being rained on the effected. Find people who can provide sensible and intelligent commentary and put them in the media path. The MaritimeNZ people cant because they work for the politicians. Hence you are only getting one side of the story.