The chips are down

“No more exploration for oil and gas.”  A smug pronouncement from the comrade whose only real job has been standing beside a natural-gas-heated vat, cooking fish and chips.

But, add all the fish and chip fryers together, throw in the other commercial uses, add in all the domestic users and, for good measure, the farmers, and their combined use is 9.4% of the total gas consumption in New Zealand. [Latest figures from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2015] Thus, over 90% of gas consumption is used for electricity generation, industrial consumption or non-energy use, which presumably means as feedstock to some other process.

While it is terribly sad for all those homeowners who have installed gas water heaters and gas cookers, these can all be replaced with electrical units that will work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Yes, there will be a significant cost to the individuals as they retrofit these units but they will be comforted to know that they are saving the planet.

The big boys are going to face a bigger challenge. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment tell us that the major users supplied directly from the transmission system are:

  • Methanex
  • Ballance Agri-Nutrients
  • New Zealand Steel
  • Carter Holt Harvey
  • Degussa Peroxide
  • Fonterra Co-operative
  • Todd Energy
  • Refining NZ and
  • Tasman Pulp and Paper.

But, not to worry, just before the frying comrade became the flying comrade and jetted off to London, she generously announced that existing extraction could continue, so all is good.

Or not!

The graph of the current production profiles drops off pretty rapidly. It is down to half in about 10 years and a quarter in 20 years.

So, where will these big users get their gas? We cannot simply run a pipeline under the Tasman Sea and expect the Aussies to supply us, so we will have to ship it all in.

These ships are huge (350m long, 12m draft) and the only port in New Zealand that can handle ships of this size is the Port of Tauranga.

Just docking a ship of this size is not sufficient. They need a portside facility to regasify the shipped liquid natural gas into ordinary natural gas for pipeline distribution.

Let’s have a look at the two United Kingdom natural-gas port facilities at Milford Haven:

and the one at the Isle of Grain.

Google Street view

I am sure that the residents of Mount Maunganui will welcome a facility, of this scale, on their doorstep.

I suspect that the real reason why our ex-chippy comrade does not want to use the New Zealand supply of natural gas is that it is an evil carbon-hydrogen compound, CH4, whereas the natural gas that we would import to “realign our climate objectives” (James Shaw) and ensure we were “climate-ready” (Julie Anne Genter) is completely different, as it is almost entirely methane.

Wait, what? Methane is CH4 – well blow me down with a feather.

OK, exam time:

For 25% credit towards your NCEA qualification in Virtue Signalling Level 2.  (You have 15 minutes to complete this section.)

Because we cannot look for, and drill, some new local-production wells that could be connected to the existing distribution pipeline relatively inexpensively, the comrade and her team of green sycophants have two choices:

A) Kill off all the industrial processes dependent on natural gas, fire all their workers and those in the downstream support companies, throw tens of thousands of households into poverty and bankrupt the country due to lack of tax revenue and increased welfare payments, or

B) Bankrupt the country by spending many years and many megabucks on getting RMA approval for, and then building, a natural gas onshore terminal in order to import the quantities of natural gas needed.

Question 1. Which option saves the planet?

Question 2. What colour is the best option?  (Please show your workings.)

Question 3.  Spell the word ‘idiots’. (Phonetic spelling is acceptable.)


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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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