Tauranga oil spill

Written By: - Date published: 10:08 am, April 30th, 2015 - 58 comments
Categories: Conservation, water - Tags: , ,

The latest oil spill:

Leaked oil in Tauranga Harbour came from Mobil pipeline

Heavy fuel oil spilled from a ship bunkering at the Port of Tauranga has washed up along the shores of the city’s inner waterways – leaving a “boiling black mess”.

At least three birds were found oiled and taken to a Tauranga wildlife sanctuary following the spill at the port on Monday.

Mobil has confirmed the leak that led to oil being spilled into Tauranga Habour came from one of its pipelines during a ship’s refuelling at the Mount Maunganui wharf.

Video coverage: Thick, black oil spilled in Tauranga Harbour

A small spill but a timely reminder of the damage that oil can do. If we can’t even do simple things like refuel safely there is no way that we can guarantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast off NZ.

58 comments on “Tauranga oil spill ”

  1. Old Mickey 1

    On the basis of your argument, we should stop dairying straight away given the damage that dairying does to our waterways.

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      We havent even started deep sea drilling.

      Maybe you should learn to read before commenting

    • Dialey 1.2

      Old Mickey, Yup, you’ve got that right, certainly there should be a moratorium on further dairyfication until the waterways are adequately protected and cleaned up.

      • freedom 1.2.1

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/68103101/dairy-clean-up-costs-in-us-environmental-journal
        It will no doubt be unpopular in certain circles and heralded by others but peer reviewed data is what has been called for by critics, and now they have it.
        Most importantly ” the paper was the first time research had been done at a national scale, rather than region by region.”

        A regular excuse used by various Ministers when avoiding the issue of the intensification of Dairy and its effects on New Zealand’s ecological sustainability is there is no information that looks at the issue on a national scale.

      • Old Mickey 1.2.2

        And while at it, and investigation needs to be had on the impact on the land that was infected by PSA, mots will be wasteland in 5-10 years with all the copper sprayed on the vines.

    • weka 1.3

      “On the basis of your argument, we should stop dairying straight away given the damage that dairying does to our waterways.”

      Of course we should. There are other ways to make a living, but there isn’t anything else to replace clean water.

      No reason we can’t have small, sustainably managed dairy farms to provide food for NZ. But big industrial export dairy is an extractive industry just oil drilling.

      • Tracey 1.3.1

        Watch how quickly those not currently complying would comply, or sell up if they were dealt with more heavy handedly.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1.1

          Yep, adequate regulations and full enforcement of them would shut down most dairying in NZ.

          • tracey 1.3.1.1.1

            From what I can glean, those farmers unable to meet the time-frames for dealing with their emissions have over committed themselves financially and have no lee-way for what they regards as “extras”, like environmental management.

      • freedom 1.3.2

        And like oil, we get crumbs from the banquet, as more and more of the resources of our nation are owned and operated through offshore interests that siphon an ever increasing share of our gdp.

      • Maui 1.3.3

        +1. I think this is what the report gets at, is that if we took into consideration all the external costs, there would be no way dairy (& beef) farming the way we currently do it would be profitable. The pollution costs are being deferred down the line to future generations and in the end to the greater public. A pretty common capitalism scenario I spose..

    • Murray Rawshark 1.4

      We should definitely cut right back on dairying. Why should we be wrecking the land for something that makes a loss? Doesn’t even make sense in right wing terms.

    • Gerald 1.5

      In its present form YES

      • Anne 1.5.1

        This is really for Wayne Mapp @ 2
        Picked out 3 simple to understand responses to your stupid comment (below) – just to make sure you don’t miss them.

        Naturesong:
        Pro tip: You can actually read the Green Party agenda here and here

        Informing yourself may reduce the likelihood of looking like a wilfully ignorant tool.

        However, if presenting yourself as a wilfully ignorant fool is actually your intent, then by all means carry on.

        Draco de Bastard:
        Tell me Wayne, why is it that you right-wingers are so determined to prevent us doing that which we need to do?

        We need to move on from fossil fuel use. This pretty much means that we stop digging up fossil fuels, decommission fossil fuel generators and transport and start implementing renewable energy generation and sustainable energy use.

        Matthew Whitehead:
        There’s less of a safety issue with the existing platforms, but yes, ideally we will want to have minimal fossil fuel extraction at some point in the future. That’s not the same as having imminent designs on shutting them down, and unlike when National takes moves that effect an industry, the general Green approach is that those employed in fossil fuel industries should receive subsidised retraining and be prioritised for new renewable jobs, so I doubt the NZ Green Party would react any differently when it comes to proposing shut downs.

        Read them and make yourself better informed and a better person for it

        or ( to re-quote DdB)

        Why is it you right wingers are so stupid and ignorant?

  2. Wayne 2

    And stop all the existing Taranaki offshore oil/gas platforms.

    But I guess that is the Green Party agenda.

    • dukeofurl 2.1

      Its not ‘deep sea’ drilling, which is very very high risk.

    • Tracey 2.2

      As opposed to the National party agenda of if it makes someone money then any downside is acceptable but we will SAY it’s not acceptable but our actions will speak volumes (Simon Bridges statement to the press recently about renewable energy being a great idea but we need more fossil fuel “in the meantime” as an example).

    • weka 2.3

      “And stop all the existing Taranaki offshore oil/gas platforms.

      But I guess that is the Green Party agenda.”

      We have to transition to post-carbon at some point. We can do it now, gradually, while we have a choice, or we can not do it, and be forced into it by Peak Oil, by which time it will be much harder and CC will probably make it moot anyway.

      The other thing to remember is that we should be keeping as many oil and coal reserves as possible for future generations for critical use. To be swapping our non-renewables for money at this stage is the height of insanity and selfishness. We will be judged very badly by those that follow us.

      • Molly 2.3.1

        +100

      • tracey 2.3.2

        Agree. The biggest problem, imo, is there is no attempt at even finding a middle ground between the two Party’s in terms of a say, 5-10 year plan.

        Sure, The Greens want something they believe will make a difference very quickly, but the Nats seem to be so disconnected from the place of human in nature that they think accumulating wealth for a small number of people will make the problem go away.

        As long as many humans measure their own worth in terms of “financial success” only Wayne’s World will keep traction only until it personally affects him or his children or grand children.

    • joe90 2.4

      And stop all the existing Taranaki offshore oil/gas platforms

      Start before the owners put their hands out…

      The government therefore acted to bolster confidence last October when it issued the first decommissioning tax relief deeds to seven oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea. These guarantee the tax relief a company will receive, so that even if a future government makes tax changes they can still claim a “difference payment”.

      http://raconteur.net/sustainability/sink-or-swim-as-wave-of-decommissioning-approaches

      But just what will happen to the platforms and pipelines off the Taranaki coast when the gas finally runs out remains uncertain, though decommissioning would cost hundreds of millions.

      The Environmental Protection Authority, EPA, is considering the application to extend the life of the Maui field with marine consent hearings in Wellington on Wednesday.

      Some opponents of the consent being granted for another 35 years said they were concerned about the “apparent lack of plans for decommissioning and remediation of the site”.
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/68145946/maui-gas-fields-costly-end-questioned

    • Naturesong 2.5

      Pro tip: You can actually read the Green Party agenda here and here

      Informing yourself may reduce the likelihood of looking like a wilfully ignorant tool.

      However, if presenting yourself as a wilfully ignorant fool is actually your intent, then by all means carry on.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.6

      Tell me Wayne, why is it that you right-wingers are so determined to prevent us doing that which we need to do?

      We need to move on from fossil fuel use. This pretty much means that we stop digging up fossil fuels, decommission fossil fuel generators and transport and start implementing renewable energy generation and sustainable energy use.

    • There’s less of a safety issue with the existing platforms, but yes, ideally we will want to have minimal fossil fuel extraction at some point in the future. That’s not the same as having imminent designs on shutting them down, and unlike when National takes moves that effect an industry, the general Green approach is that those employed in fossil fuel industries should receive subsidised retraining and be prioritised for new renewable jobs, so I doubt the NZ Green Party would react any differently when it comes to proposing shut downs.

  3. Nick 3

    @old Miley, waterways, NZ farmers and dairying are much more easily able to have ecological safeguards added to protect and sustain, rather than the ocean, which is uncontrollable, in addition to the illogical fossil fuel strategy.

  4. wyndham 4

    Ironic that this has occurred in the Tauranga electorate – – – home of the Nat’s deep-sea drilling advocate Simon Bridges.

    • Tracey 4.1

      I was thinking the same thing…

      “”The fundamentals haven’t changed,” he said. “Energy companies can – and must – look past the immediate and take a long term view if they are to fulfil world energy aspirations into the future. In short, surety in petroleum production tomorrow requires continued exploration today.”

      While New Zealand had an advantage in renewable energy, “the role of non-renewables, including oil and gas, should not be understated”, said Bridges.

      He used the conference platform to invite industry bids for a further seven exploration permits offered by the Government this year.

      The offer includes three onshore areas – one in the Taranaki Basin and two in the West Coast Basin.

      The remaining four offshore areas were in the Reinga-Northland Basin, Taranaki Basin, Pegasus Basin, and Great South-Canterbury Basin.

      Bidders had to provide a detailed plan of how they would do the exploration work and show they were technically and financially capable of carrying it out. Permits may be granted for up to 15 years.

      Bridges said the Government was committed to attracting major international companies to invest in exploration and development of oil and gas resources.”

      Time and energy (pun intended) could be spent on renewable energy rather than trying to lure/woo oil companies to speculate in our waters at our environmental cost. Between dropping dairy prices and oil prices we have been given a BIG warning about the danger of our eggs being in 1-4 major baskets. Same with having 2 major markets like China and Australia. We are vulnerable.

      wind turbines, placed in the sea.. in the right spot on our coast could generate enough electricity to power over 250,000 homes…
      http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/18/uk-installs-first-6-mw-wind-turbine-north-sea/

  5. Lanthanide 5

    “A small spill but a timely reminder of the damage that oil can do. If we can’t even do simple things like refuel safely there is no way that we can guarantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast of NZ.”

    Specious argument.

    • weka 5.1

      How so?

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        Because it’s not comparable at all.

        A better comparison would be to ask how many oil spills there have been from the Taranaki offshore platforms.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          Depends on what you want to compare. I read it as r0b comparing risk/relatively safety of tech with the potential negatives. In today’s scenario the risk is supposedly low, but here we have an oil spill with negative consequences. With deep sea drilling the risk is inherently much higher (and so are the negative consequences). If we can’t manage the low risk scenario withing acceptable limits, what makes us think we can manage the high risk?

          “A better comparison would be to ask how many oil spills there have been from the Taranaki offshore platforms.”

          I’d be more interested in the history of oil spills in NZ in general, and if they are getting worse or more frequent.

          • Lanthanide 5.1.1.1.1

            “With deep sea drilling the risk is inherently much higher (and so are the negative consequences). If we can’t manage the low risk scenario withing acceptable limits, what makes us think we can manage the high risk?”

            The risks are very different, and managed by very different people with very different interests in the outcomes.

            An oil spill from an oil rig would potentially cost an oil company in the tens of millions to clean up, and they could face harsh penalties from the government.

            A small leak while refilling a boat will not cost tens of millions to clean up, and is very unlikely to face harsh penalties from the government like having to shut down or sell their operations.

            Again, not really comparable, or worth comparing.

            This is what is called “risk management”. It’s why commercial buildings that have high occupancy rates must meet stricter building compliance and undergo more checks than a residential home does. An appropriate amount of money and time is spent, relative to the risk and seriousness of an accident.

            • tracey 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Hasn’t there been a recent admission that the amount of oil spilling from that Gulf of Mexico spill for the last ten years is actually 4 times bigger than they previously said?

              Caused by insufficient ability to withstand the weather problems in that area and a further failure to repair after the event.

              • Lanthanide

                Yes. So that is a much more relevant comparison to deep sea drilling in NZ, than an oil leak from refueling a boat.

                I am not an advocate for deep sea drilling in NZ and I’m not saying deep sea drilling in NZ is a great thing to do and lets jump in. I’m merely pointing out that the comparison used by r0b in his post is specious.

                It is quite possible to highlight flaws in someone’s argument, even if you agree with the sentiment behind their argument.

                • weka

                  I think you are looking at comparisons from a business perspective, and technical management perspective. I’m looking at it from an environmental one. From the environmental perspective the comparisons make sense, because acceptable risk is so much lower than in the business or engineering model. It doesn’t matter what penalties mighe be imposed, nor that different tech is involved, what matters is that what we are risking.

                  So, again, if we can’t manage the tech for something relatively low risk like transferring oil, what makes us think we will manage the tech for something high risk like deep sea drilling? We already know that the people involved think the risk is not only acceptable but part of their business plan.

                  • Lanthanide

                    r0b’s argument is about as relevant as saying:
                    “There was a local farmer, who when refueling his tractor, spilt about 1,000 of litres into the local stream. So therefore we shouldn’t allow the oil refinery at Marsden Point to operate, because if they have an accident, they could spill heaps more, as shown by the terrible damage done by the local farmer”.

                • tracey

                  Refuelling would seem a simpler process done more (which increases risk but also creates more opportunity to observe how to reduce the risk) and isn’t that r)b’s point, that if they can’t master refuelling after all this time why trust them to go deep into the ocean?

                  I do take your point…

            • Macro 5.1.1.1.1.2

              An oil spill from an oil rig would potentially cost an oil company in the tens of millions to clean up, and they could face harsh penalties from the government.

              You forgot the /sarc tag.

              http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/business/energy-environment/judge-sets-top-penalty-for-bp-in-deepwater-horizon-spill-at-nearly-14-billion.html?_r=0

              A former federal prosecutor of environmental crimes, David M. Uhlmann of the University of Michigan Law School, called the decision “a major victory for BP” because it reduced the company’s potential liability by billions of dollars.

              Companies are rarely assessed the greatest possible penalty, and he said that the ultimate penalty could come to $10 billion or exceed it, “but not by much.”

              But that is in the States, where they kill people for killing people, and lock innocents up for decades. How do you think our poxy govt is going to stand up to these giant corporates?

              • Lanthanide

                The linked article supports my argument:

                The company says that it has spent $27 billion since the spill, including more than $14 billion on response and cleanup and about $13 billion in damage claims.

                So when I said that it could cost a company tens of millions of dollars to clean up an oil spill, here we have an example where the cost to cleanup after a deep-water drilling spill was a thousand times that.

                Again, anyone who leaks oil from refueling a boat, is very unlikely to face cleanup costs in the order of millions of dollars, let alone billions.

                r0b’s argument is about as relevant as saying:
                “There was a local farmer, who when refueling his tractor, spilt about 1,000 of litres into the local stream. So therefore we shouldn’t allow the oil refinery at Marsden point to operate, because if they have an accident, they could spill heaps more, as shown by the terrible damage done by the local farmer”.

                • Macro

                  r0b’s argument is about as relevant as saying:
                  “There was a local farmer, who when refueling his tractor, spilt about 1,000 of litres into the local stream. So therefore we shouldn’t allow the oil refinery at Marsden point to operate, because if they have an accident, they could spill heaps more, as shown by the terrible damage done by the local farmer”.

                  But that is just it!
                  Having worked in the marine environment for 15 years – an oil spill is an oil spill whether it comes from refueling ships or from an oil well or from Marsden Point. It is in fact far more likely to come from a deep sea oil well, than from refueling incidentally.
                  http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/278140/27-chance-oil-spill-hitting-coast
                  So I don’t see how you can argue that it is an invalid argument just because the spill comes from a different source. r0b’s argument correctly assumes the premise that an oil spill is an oil spill – no matter where it comes from.

                  The cost of an oil spillage from a deep sea oil well in NZ would be horrendous – the States has equipment to deal with such a calamity – we have nothing. A few oil booms and sponges and that’s about it. Supposedly it is the responsibility of the oil drillers to deal with – but their behaviour world wide on this matter is nothing short of appalling.
                  eg
                  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/30/oil-spills-nigeria-niger-delta-shell
                  You can bet that were NZ to face the catastrophic damage of an oil spill from a deep sea well the drillers would just walk away – and there would be nothing we could do to stop them.

                  • Lanthanide

                    I’ll make it even simpler for you:

                    r0bs argument is literally A has happened, therefore B.

                    He hasn’t established any coherent link as to why A happening will make B more or less likely to happen. The only thing linking A and B at all is they share some similarities in outcome.

                    Here, I’ll replace A and B for you:
                    The sun has risen, therefore I’ll turn on the light on my back porch.

                    Both have similar outcomes: illumation of the back porch. There’s nothing in the cause of the sun rising (the earth has revolved on its axis) that should imply anything about the state of my back porch light.

                    • Macro

                      I have a degree in Mathematics and Logic – I do not agree with your simplistic analysis.

                    • r0b

                      r0bs argument is literally A has happened, therefore B.

                      No it really isn’t.

                    • Lanthanide

                      @ Macro & r0b:
                      Ok, if you can show why an oil spill from refuelling a boat is relevant to whether an oil spill would happen from an offshore oil rig, go ahead.

                    • r0b []

                      Ok, if you can show why an oil spill from refuelling a boat is relevant to whether an oil spill would happen from an offshore oil rig, go ahead.

                      Later on tonight if I get time, but that request is unrelated to your statement. You said:

                      r0bs argument is literally A has happened, therefore B.

                      No it really really isn’t, that’s an absurd characterisation, especially when you start substituting any bollocks you like for A and B.

                      Ciao!

                    • Lanthanide

                      Seems to fit to me. Here’s what you said:

                      “If we can’t even do simple things like refuel safely there is no way that we can guarantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast off NZ.”

                      A = “can’t refuel safely”
                      B = “there is no way that we can guarantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast off NZ”.

                      “can’t refuel safely” has happened, therefore “there is no way that we can gaurantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast off NZ”.

                      I can’t see any direct connection between “can’t refuel safely” and “there is no way that we can gaurantee the safety of deep sea drilling of the coast off NZ”.

                      Hopefully you’ll get some time to night to fill in the missing link, because it’s not obvious to me. Both A and B involved oil getting mixed with sea water, but beyond that…

                    • r0b []

                      Both A and B involved oil getting mixed with sea water, but beyond that…

                      Both A and B involve the ability of the “oil industry” to safely manage oil without accidents and leaks / spills. It was a Mobil pipe that leaked. The oil industry doesn’t (and can’t) maintain a perfect safety record. I would have thought the links were obvious.

            • Maui 5.1.1.1.1.3

              A “high risk” spill could also mean the taxpayer picks up the $50 million bill or most of the tab. Remember this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10879646

              We know our Government doesn’t put the effort into environmental risk management and neither do the multi-national companies.

  6. weka 6

    “A small spill but a timely reminder of the damage that oil can do.”

    It’s also a timely reminder of the cost of our current lifestyles. Everything we do relies on oil. If we don’t extract oil here, it has to come from somewhere else. Can we ethically say we want to protect our own waters but continue to use oil that threatens other ecosystems? The only ethical response is to stop using so much and to push for the transition to post-carbon. Plus, you know, climate change.

  7. jenny kirk 7

    Hi – thanks to all your Standard posters for those links to stories about oil spills and dairying dirtying water. I’ve put ’em up on our FB page “Puhipuhi Mining Action Group” for future reference when we’re needing arguments/facts when fighting to keep our local waters clean (that should be – cleaner because they’re not pristine now) from future mining activities – and I’ve passed the dairying story onto someone battling to get heard at regional council level on that very issue. So this is really useful stuff. Thanks.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Make no mistake: the only thing that can stop it in the long run is vigilance. The facts are useful, and rust never sleeps.

  8. SMILIN 8

    One really important fact is that national are incompetent managers of our nations resources and environment if they can keep dangling the housing boom carrot long enough they think people will stay blind to the carnage just like WW1
    With a rags to riches mentality to boot just look at their leader, poster boy ” Johnny is a joker” lifes just dandy in his mind
    GIVE HIM THE BOOT

    • humPrac 8.1

      Quote: “One really important fact is that national are incompetent managers of our nations resources”
      Absolutely.
      People have forgotten what an ECONOMY is. An economy is the ECONOMIZING of the resources you have so everyone gets to benefit from those resources without running those resources down.
      Money should be a side effect, but in todays world ‘money’ IS the economy and ‘economizing of resources’ is a side effect.
      The world IS going backwards.
      When money flow trumps ‘economizing on resources’, you have the potential to ruin the possibility of living on that planet.

  9. humPrac 9

    Has anyone EVER considered what function oil serves for the Earth itself? It’s not likely to be there for nothing. Could it be that oil LUBRICATES the earth? Could it be that oil stops huge unimaginable earthquakes from happening due to lowering the friction between sections of rock? Could the “pockets” of oil we find be the sump tank for the oil to flow and return from?
    When you run an engine without oil, after some time the engine will shake, rattle, heat up, and either rattle itself to pieces, or blow up.

  10. We are all responsible for the environmental destruction, that you are blaming on big dairy et al.
    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, and all that.
    New Zealand has been quite happy to take other countries resources, from bird shit, to oil to drive our industry and lifestyles. Most of us have Rare Earth materials ie cell phones and computers, so we are equally responsible for this mess http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/aug/07/china-rare-earth-village-pollution
    This growth based, consumer, $$$, lead society, has more or less striped mined the rest of the planet, it’s just our turn.
    If you want a return on your Kiwi Saver investment, then you better hope they can keep this growth going (ops I think it went;), because that is what the Green Party and Labour coned you into, literally investing in the destruction of your and your children’s environment.
    We are all users in some way, another example is sweet shop clothing, regardless of what you wear, we all benefit from near slave labour. And the pore shmuck stuck down a hole for days on end, looking for the precious metals that help run the kids Xbox.

    • Pasupial 10.1

      R A

      Still on with your end-is-nigh routine I see:

      that is what the Green Party and Labour coned you into, literally investing in the destruction of your and your children’s environment.

      Firstly, you may have been too indignant to notice this minor detail, but it is a National government that is currently in power. While Labour are not blameless (if not for the seabed & foreshore act, there wouldn’t have been the present marine & coastal areas act, which would likely have made deep-sea drilling more legally problematic), it is hard to see where the Greens have sinned in your eyes – they never having been in government.

      Perhaps you could point to a single instance where the GP has encouraged; “the destruction of your and your children’s environment”? Yes; they might not have gone as far as they ideally might have in every policy initiative, that is due to the democractic process in action. I’d trust that a lot more than I would a oligarchical dictatorship commanded by those sharing your relentlessly bleak worldview.

      Perhaps it has been you who has been coning tonight, that would make the garbledness of your words slightly more understandable.

  11. Perhaps you could point to a single instance where the GP has encouraged; “the destruction of your and your children’s environment”?

    They voted in Kiwi Saver, and still don’t point out that KS is dependent on GROWTH, it is growth that has destroyed the environment …
    Investing in this system via KS or any pension fund, or any share purchase, is hoping your investment is going to grow in value.
    Watch this please https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vII-GxsrR2c
    Dr. Albert A. Bartlett from the University of Colorado in Boulder gives a simple, and fully comprehensive lecture on the most important issues facing humans today and demonstrates that “the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

    I would love to hear your argument for an 18 year old (GP voter?) investing in KS, when it will take 47 years of more or less constant growth for it to see a pension.
    So the GP is saying to the 18 year olds, (who might think an environmental party would tell the truth?) “Vote Green it you want a survival future, but keep investing in this system”, (run by bankers/psychopaths, and fucking child molesters)
    And please don’t start on about ‘green’ investments, if you are using money to make money you are destroying yours and your children’s environment.
    To tell the truth I don’t give a fat rats arse what you think really, just fun stacking up the ‘I told ya so’s’
    22after.com is a good watch

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