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NZ should follow Norway’s example on oil

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, November 19th, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: economy, national/act government - Tags:

National has released its petroleum strategy. It appears they plan to further lower our already low royalties to encourage foreign oil companies to come here, dig up our finite our reserves as fast as they can and make off with huge profits. Just about the dumbest attitude you can have to irreplaceable natural resources like oil, gas, coal, and minerals is ‘drill, baby, drill‘. We get these resources once and once only. That means two things:

1) rather than digging up and selling it as soon as possible, we have to get the maximum value for the resource that we can over time. That may mean its wiser to leave the stuff in the ground when prices are low. We should take the approach of countries like Saudi Arabia. When the price is too low, they just reduce how much they sell. They ramp up production when the price is higher. Over time, they maximise their income. We don’t want to follow the US route of a free-for-all with private comapnies digging it up as fast as possible, then having peaking production when prices are low and not being able to sell more when prices are high.

2) This wealth belongs not just to Kiwis living now but to generations to come. If we dig stuff up now we are taking away our children’s chance to dig it up. So, we mustn’t spend the revenue on immediate consumption but rather to build New Zealand’s wealth over the long-term. The UK, for example, has used its North Sea oil and gas revenues for immediate spending. When the resource runs out they’ll be left with nothing but a hole in their budget. Scotland will be in big trouble. Norway, by contrast, has put the bulk of its oil and gas revenues in a national wealth fund (now worth $127,000 per Norwegian) that will keep funding Norway’s standard of living long after the oil and gas are gone (being a responsible country, Norway is also investing a lot of its oil wealth into offsetting carbon emissions and post-oil technology).

The Norwegian model insulates the government finances and the economy from spikes and crashes in resource prices, and prevents a resource rich country becoming a rentier state. In times of international economic crisis the national wealth fund can help protect the national economy. Norway took $2 billion from its $600 billion fund to help push the country through the recession. That money, plus the fact that one in three Norwegians are state employees, protected people from the recession – the unemployment rate is just 3%.

We should adopt the Norwegian model for all our mineral and fossil fuel wealth.

We should set up a publicly-owned company like Statoil to do the drilling, refining, and selling of the product. We don’t need our irreplaceable natural resources to be a profit stream for some foreign owned company. We should give that company a mandate to maximise returns over time, not to exploit the resource as fast as possible.

Like Norway, we need to charge high royalties on extraction of our resources by private companies. It is completely insane that National is cutting royalties to encourage foreign companies to come here and take away our limited natural resources faster. Ideally we should dig up and sell our natural resources ourselves. If we’re going to let private foreign companies do it, we should keep as much of the revenue as we can. It’s our oil, let’s not get ripped off.

The profits and royalties on all mineral and fossil fuel exploitation should go into a national wealth fund to guarantee our economic sovereignty and ensure that the wealth of these one-off resources is not spent and lost forever but continues to enrich New Zealand for generations to come.

23 comments on “NZ should follow Norway’s example on oil”

  1. Sounds like SOCIALISM to me.

    We canna do it, we canna do it.

    Better to give the wealth to overseas corporations rather than retain the wealth for the good of ordinary kiwis.

    [Said with tongue firmly in cheek]

  2. stevo 2

    I have “heard” that Oil has already been found in the southern basin in the 70s, capped off and left until………when ..prices on the rise, the world running out, oh and lets make it even cheaper to dig it up…that would be now.

    Is it true that reserves are already known about? Any exploration workers from those days care to speak up?

    In any case, we should all benefit from any oil found, as there are bound to be downsides. If we become an oil currency, we can forget about exporting anything else, other than milk powder perhaps.

    Will it make petrol cheaper in NZ? Well if we look at how dairy product prices go up when demand is high, then unless Oil production is state controlled, the answer will be NO.

    • gitmo 2.1

      If you take away the govt tax take on oil it is remarkably cheap in NZ – far cheaper than milk.

      If we’ve got oil the likes of the North Sea fields off NZ it would be a very large boon for NZ, perhaps we should go the way of the NPD and work with the major oil companies to exploit the resource.

      Re 1 in 3 a state employee … what’s the ration in NZ ?

      • Bright Red 2.1.1

        about 1 in 10 – 40,000 in the core public service, but add in the teachers, doctors, nurses, SOE employees and it comes to about 250,000.

  3. JD 3

    “This wealth belongs not just to Kiwis living now but to generations to come. If we dig stuff up now we are taking away our children’s chance to dig it up”

    Why not take take the same attitude to the increased debt that would accrue from ramping up govnt spending instead of calling for fiscal restraint. After all its going to be our childrens’s debt to pay back.

    • snoozer 3.1

      eh?

      That was the left’s attitude. That’s why Labour paid down debt and built up assets like the Cullen Fund, rather than cave to the short-sighted calls for deep tax cuts which would have seen us deeper in debt with mammoth deficits.

      You’re not seriously suggesting cutting spending in a recession are you JD? It was only government spending packages that saved the world economy from totally crashing over the last year.

      The world’s government learnt the lessons of the Great Depression – you don’t reduce government demand at the same time at private demand is falling, you increase it to jumpstart the economy.

  4. BLiP 4

    Browncoalie and the rest of the National Ltd® crew are going to need careful monitoring on this latest announcement. Given their predilection for digging up our national parks, I wouldn’t put it past them to use the legislative “tweaks” they are planning for petroleum as a vector for slipping in various and insidious permissions to facilitate further mineral exploitation.

  5. JD 5

    “The world’s government learnt the lessons of the Great Depression you don’t reduce government demand at the same time at private demand is falling, you increase it to jumpstart the economy.”

    They also ramped up govnt spending during an economic boom hence the 44% rise in the numbers of public service.

    Are you totally unaware of the treasary prediction for our debt to ballon in the next 30 years. to 223% of GDP given our current fiscal spending and productivity levels. This doesn’t strike you as worrying?

    “Given their predilection for digging up our national parks”

    So how many national parks have been dug up so far?

    • snoozer 5.1

      jd. if you’re worried about government the only money you’re going to save on a scale that matters without slashing health and education is by raising the superannuation entitlement rate.

      The core public service is too small and too cheap (only $3.6 billon or 5% of govt spending a year) to save significant money while still having the administrative capability that is needed.

      Move the reitrement age to 70, however, and you’re cutting out 32% of current pensioners and you’ll save $2.4 billion a year.

    • I reckon JD may be onto something. If we cut the public service in half we will save a couple of billion. Getting rid of all teachers and nurses ought to just about do it …

      This is the trouble with arguments with the right. You can never get them past the slogan to actually confront the reality.

      Snoozer’s suggested increase in the retirement age is a consideration BUT John Key has ruled out it happening during the time of his government. THis is really typical. They create a problem that will happen but then refuse to implement what may be the only rational response on the grounds of political expediency.

  6. JD 6

    It’s interesting how you describe our bureaucracy as ‘too cheap’. Living in Wellington I am well aware of the numbers of new office grade A blocks which have gone up in Thorndon in the past 4 years. In the end the left may have no choice if it wants to be elected again to limit its cherished public sector. Those thousands of pensioners would rather cut public service numbers than work another 5 years. Really who wouldn’t.

    • JD

      How about answering Snoozer’s response and actually analyse the figures. You could take a machine gun and shoot every public servant on Thorndon Street and you would do bugger all for the Government’s books.

      So what would you do about super?

      Increase contributions to the Cullen fund?
      Put up the age of retirement?

      • Marty G 6.1.1

        The irony, of course, is that if you shot every public servant on The Terrace the price of delivering public services would go up and the service delivery would be worse. It would be left to doctors and teachers etc to try to do their own jobs plus specialist policy development, planning etc etc etc

    • RedLogix 6.2

      mickey,

      I strongly suspect that most righties like JD are functionally innumerate. You give them the numbers but are simply incapable of grasping the elementary consequences of them.

      That’s why they get stuck on ‘sack all the public servants and the books will balance themselves’ magical thinking.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        I think it’s more that they’re incapable of accepting reality.

      • fraser 6.2.2

        and at the same time forgetting that the national appointed hatchet men (im sorry “purchase advisors”) could barely find anything that could/should be cut in the first place

    • Marty G 6.3

      If it came to it, I would rather work until 70 (like most people I’m likely to still be healthy and active at that age) than slash healthcare or education.

      So, no, JD, I won’t rather cut public service numbers than work an extra five years.

      As snoozer explained to you, you can’t cut government spending by a meaningful amount by cutting the number of core public service employees. If you cut them by even 10% you’re only talking $340 million, which in the scale of a country of 4 million people is the kind of chump change (0.5% of govt spending) that Treasury finds behind the couch.

      And do you really think that any govt, Labour or National is employing these people for the hell of it? No. They are the ones who organise and plan the actual delivery of public services like health, education, roading. Who do you think decides where and when schools need to be opened or closed? Who do you think monitors and forecasts traffic flows, plans new motorways, gets the consents, hires the contractors?

      You can’t deliver public services without public servants.

      • RedLogix 6.3.1

        If it came to it, I would rather work until 70

        Which of course is not the case for everyone. There are plenty of jobs (drainlaying, shearing, orderlies, truckies and the like) whose jobs is physically demanding. Lots of these men, and it would be mostly men, are plain worn out by the time they are 55, just getting to 60 or so is a struggle for some them. By contrast us shiny arse’s will still be making a doddery nuisance of ourselves at 75 or more. The idea of a universal retirement age may not work anymore.

        There are real policy implications around this.

    • lprent 6.4

      I think you have the same problem with numerical literacy that Nick Smith has. Have you ever read the budgets?

      You’re talking about two completely different orders of magnitude of cost…

      Please start talking after you’ve gained some ability to read a budget…

  7. JD 7

    Interesting range of responses here none of which are either honest (yes of course you want to work until you’re 70) or doesn’t really address the issue of how is NZ going to pay for a gold plated public sector and social service payments when our liabilities may amount to 223% of GDP in the future. Maybe you should examine the consequences of those numbers which posters here have expediently ignored.

    Given that 10% of our population is already in Australia then I’d be worried what will happen then a lot more of us get sick of increasing tax levels. So good luck in ignoring that reality.

  8. Martha 8

    I aggree with the author that NZ should follow Norway’s example on oil as it is beneficial to it.

  9. JD 9

    “I aggree with the author that NZ should follow Norway’s example on oil as it is beneficial to it.”

    The weak link in your plan is that self-restraint is an unknown quality with socialist politicians especially when it concerns other peoples money.

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    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    2 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    2 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    4 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    5 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    5 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    5 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago

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