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You’ve got to know to ask the questions that matter

Written By: - Date published: 2:51 pm, February 16th, 2009 - 41 comments
Categories: economy, Media - Tags:

When I heard Shell is looking at selling its service stations in NZ and its shares in Fulton Hogan, my initial thought was that the Government should look at buying – to keep profits in NZ, to help ensure competition in the market as Kiwibank has for banking, and so there is a publicly-owned network of service stations that can used to lead the way on future ‘refueling’ (battery charging or battery replacement).

And while I still think there may be some merit in that, then I heard One New’s Heather du Plessis-Allan repeat Shell’s explanation for why it was looking to sell. The company claimed it needs cash for investment in exploration and high growth markets. That raised alarm bells for me and if we had enough quality journos they might have picked up the problem too.

Shell is awash with cash. It made a profit of US$41 billion last year, probably twenty times what it would hope to make from selling its NZ interests. It returned $3 billion in dividends each quarter to its investors last year and spent $3 billion on share buy-backs (basically, what a company does when it has nothing else to do with its money). And it’s still sitting on a huge pile of cash. It doesn’t need to free up money from NZ for investment elsewhere, if it needed the cash it already has it.

So that leaves two possibilities two my mind. Either Shell thinks that service stations aren’t a money-maker in the long-term and wants to get out while the getting it good. Or it thinks New Zealand isn’t a good prospect in the long-term. The first implies a belief that people aren’t going to be going to service stations in the reasonably near future either because the technology has moved on or the supply of petrol is falling. The second, more worryingly, suggests it doesn’t think the New Zealand economy will be a good place to be compared to the rest of the world for some time, which may also link into peak oil.

Maybe those aren’t the real reasons but would be really interesting to know why Shell wants out of New Zealand. A pity the question wasn’t asked.

41 comments on “You’ve got to know to ask the questions that matter ”

  1. mike 1

    Comrad pierson – the Governments job is to govern. Not to run petrol stations. silly post..

  2. Mike,

    That would be Comrade Pierson actually.

    If the commercial private oil companies no longer find NZ interesting as a market and want to move to “growth” countries then perhaps it would be wise to make sure as a people to make sure that we keep supplies of petrol distributed to the places where we need petrol.
    Those petrol companies might think that providing 4.3 million people with petrol isn’t very interesting but those 4.3 million might disagree.

    The Government which should be by the people for the people might very well be tasked by the people to keep petrol supplies coming.

  3. An astute question Clint. It does not smell quite right. Having said that the oil price has dropped substantially and Shell has had some reasonably massive structural shocks over the last few years. You will recall it was forced to write down its reserves by 25% + a year or two ago. It is likely that a strategic review has identified that Shell NZ does not meet its cost of capital and is unlikely to in the medium term. The reason companies like Shell make so much money over the long term is that they have a ruthless attention to financial performance and believe their analysis. If the projected returns even under positive scenarios was less than cost of capital they may well make the decision to exit on that basis.

    That said there has been a comfortable downstream oligopoly in New Zealand for many years which would suggest they should have been extracting high returns. Consistent poor local management is a more likely explanation.

    The getting is not good now. Oil price is low and equity not highly available unless you think they are trying to sucker the government into buying.

    Also bear in mind that they may simply be exiting ownership of the franchise. Shell is still a value brand and it is unlikely any buyer would change that. Owning service stations is high cost and regulation intense. They may still make most of their margin in the wholesale price. I did not see any reference to selling out of Marsden point. Which means they keep the refining margin and get rid of low added value distribution.

  4. rave 4

    Well I know what we should do.
    Nationalise Marsden Point and use it to refine Venezuelan crude which we could swap for much needed high protein food.
    Shell, Mobil, Caltex etc could then take a massive cut in profits or piss off leaving their monstrous eyesores to be redeveloped as bike shops, car pool centres, discos and fast food outlets.
    Alternatively we could bypass Mitsubishi and swap our food for lithium in Bolivia to power locally constructed electric cars that would dispense with oil. The bosses would need to take some also to calm down. Lithium that is.

  5. Redbaiter 5

    “Nationalise Marsden Point and use it to refine Venezuelan crude which we could swap for much needed high protein food.”

    Dumb fuck. There won’t be any Venezualan crude very soon. The country is broke destitute and its citizens will soon be starving, as another commie scumbag whose mind is as fucked as yours drives another country to destruction, as they have done again and again and again throughout history.

  6. Redbaiter 6

    ooops- forgot the asteriks..!!

    “Nationalise Marsden Point and use it to refine Venezuelan crude which we could swap for much needed high protein food.’

    Dumb fuck. There won’t be any Venezuelan crude very soon. The country is broke destitute and its citizens will soon be starving, as another c*mm*e scumbag whose mind is as fucked as yours drives another country to destruction, as they have done again and again and again throughout history.

  7. Redbaiter,

    You are seriously getting on my wick now. I’ve been following your attacks and rants and you are one seriously sad and ignorant puppy. You might want to hook up with Billy and Higherstandard. They’d really appreciate you.

    South America is finally escaping you crummy capitalist greedy pigs and it is countries like Venezuela where populations finally get a fair share of the oil proceeds in the form of healthcare, education and infra structure.

    That is contrary to the disgusting profits oil companies have been making in your capitalist dominated Western world. This is what Stiglitz, Nobel price winning economist has to say about Venezuela. Oh, and Chavez just succeeded by popular vote to change the law so he can be elected again. Doesn’t sound like the Venezuelans feel they are getting a bad deal to me.

    Calling Rave a dumb fuck shows you ignorance and your angry denial of the reality. Your Capitalist system is collapsing around your ears and your banking scum mate John Key and his Companeros (Capitalism for us poor smucks and Socialism for the rich) are to blame.

    That reminds me: John Key signalled today that he was willing to look into bailing out Fisher and Paykel. Would that be the same F&P who dumped their factories here and in Brisbane in favour of Mexico and Thailand?
    You know what, I say let the Mexicans and the Thai pick up F&P’s tab, they wanted them they’ve got them.

    But tell you what I reckon JK loves Socialism. Just so long as it bestows wealth on him his bankster mates and his rich mates the owners of F&P and that means that us, the taxpayers cane cough up for the likes of F&P. That’s what JK said in his APEC speech anyway.

    So now the party is over and the taxpayers of the world are left to underwrite in one form or another the liabilities and obligations of banks and, by extension, their hedge-fund clientele.

    That’s you and me Bubba.

    The rest, that’s us, can get fucked as usual

  8. Redbaiter 8

    “You are seriously getting on my wick now. I’ve been following your attacks and rants and you are one seriously sad and ignorant puppy.”


  9. Chess Player 9

    Rave, can you please pass a large dose of that Lithium on to Travellerev,

    Much obliged…

  10. Tim Ellis 10

    Redbaiter, there’s no need for that kind of personal abuse.

    Ev, Higherstandard doesn’t go around abusing people as far as I’ve seen. S/he debates civilly and on point. The same can’t always be said for you. Case in point is you calling redbaiter a “crummy capitalist greedy pig”. It’s nice to see you back though. You offer a refreshing, if unorthodox view of the world.

  11. Felix 11


    Redbaiter is a long-time troll. He’s been copying and pasting the exact same comments across the net for years with no intent other than to wind people up and destroy genuine debates – as evidenced by his reply to you above.

    I have no idea why the authors here are putting up with his vandalism don’t just ban the prick – he’s never, ever contributed anything of any value to any website and never will.


    He’s reading this assessment now and gushing with pride.

  12. higherstandard 12


    I’m not adverse to offering abuse to those who I think need it …

    Interesting word ‘refreshing” before completely dismissing redbaiter’s abuse of Rave out of hand I would suggest you have a peek at his site, Eve’s is almost mainstream by comparison.

    captcha Netherland 18 (Eve have you been lying on your birth certificate 🙂 )

  13. Redbaiter 13

    “Redbaiter, there’s no need for that kind of personal abuse”

    This isn’t a classroom dipshit and you’re not the teacher. Keep your arrogant condescending crap to yourself.

  14. Redbaiter 14

    “He’s reading this assessment now and gushing with pride.”

    I’m not actually. I ‘m merely thinking “another brain damaged anti freedom of expression control freak leftist unable to tell the difference between opinion and fact, and so insane irrational and bigoted that any appraisial of anything or anybody is completely worthless”.

    IrishBill: You’ve made no argument for days. All you have done is abuse other commenters. Make an effort to present a cogent argument or you will be banned.

  15. wil 15

    thats a good point Ev about F&P sending their manufacturing plants offshore, dumping their workers here. In that case, why should taxpayer dollars prop them up? When I threw out my old F&P 400 I put my back out. It was the bloody concrete block in it.. bastards..

    speaking of bastards.. redbaiter/whalegirly whatever your name is, you’re an asshole, but I’m sure you already know that.

  16. Felix 16

    “another brain damaged anti freedom of expression control freak leftist unable to tell the difference between opinion and fact, and so insane irrational and bigoted that any appraisial of anything or anybody is completely worthless’.

    Nothing further.

  17. Redbaiter 17

    “IrishBill: You’ve made no argument for days.”

    That is bullshit. The moron above suggests Venezuelan oil is a potential source of income when anyone with any real information on the issue knows that Venezuelan oil production is likely to grind to a complete halt soon due to contractors not being paid and a lack of drillable prospects. The whole oil industry in Venezuela is in free fall and therefore so is Venezuela’s economy. The argument is to prove those facts wrong, and not one leftist here dares to pick up that baton and run with it.

    They seek refuge from the truth by attacking the messenger- as leftists always do, because they cannot ever face truth, and Redbaiter is hated by leftists because he constantly brings them the truth that shatters their delusions and that they have no answer to.

    I have produced stats and references (on other threads on other issues) to back up my claim that progressives and their ideology are the root cause of violent and crime ridden society. Once again- no response other than hate and disparagement. (oh, and of course the weak claim the stats must be wrong, even tho they’d need to be 1000% wrong for the error to be significant)

    Your boys are the ones without facts and arguments Bill. They’re the lamers. Go on, ban me. Prove everything anyone has ever said about the left to be true, (and I’ll take the utmost pleasure in referencing that banning all over the net.)

  18. No Tim,

    HS, only ridicules and belittles and oh, he will abuse when he thinks someone needs it. How droll.

    LOLOLOL. “HS, debates civilly and on point.” Fucking Hell Tim, I just fell off my chair laughing on that one. No, again he belittles and ridicules but civilly of course. That’s the rule.

    And Tim,

    Redbaiter, there’s no need for that kind of personal abuse. coming from you is rich and to be honest I don’t give a flying fuck whether you like me here or not.

    As to you calling my input here refreshing if somewhat unorthodox, the last time I offered my refreshing unorthodox view you couldn’t wait to pummel it into the ground (very civil and politely worded of course) so if it’s all the same to you why don’t you just fuck off OK?

    I’m glad all you trolls are out there just waiting for a chance to pounce. I missed Billy and Lucas but I’m sure they will show up.

    Someone I don’t consider a troll I miss also though. I wonder what happened to T-Rex. I have something to tell him and I miss his comments here.


    I know but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get up my wick sometimes. Besides what are trolls for but to vent some steam over sometimes. LOL.

  19. @ work 19

    Sorry red “every one knows…” arguments arent going to cut it here.

  20. Redbaiter,

    The worlds oil trade is in freefall. The OPEC countries just decided to cut oil production to keep the price up but the pending hyperinflation will put a stop to that too. Why hyperinflation? Because the Banking scum “Morons” are printing money like there is no tomorrow and they are not even lying about it any more and our fiat money system is running of the rails. Why don’t you just ask your pall John Key why that is, eh?

    I mean two trillion here or there to bail the banksters out, what the heck, we’ve got that in our back pocket and under our pillows. Oh oops, we don’t that’s why the bank of England thinks it’s a good idea to start printing it. LOL

    If the bank of London can print money out in the open you tell me, why can’t we?

    You know you should try reading something other than the National mouthpiece, the NZH.

  21. Redbaiter 21

    “Sorry red “every one knows ‘ arguments arent going to cut it here”

    Which isn’t what I said. Close down your computer and commit yourself, time waster. Take a course in reading and comprehension while you weave those baskets.

    See Bill- this moron will not take up the baton, instead he prefers childish off topic attempts at a put down that only show how bad his comprehension is. Your site would be much improved if rather than banning Redbaiter, you banned anyone with an IQ less than 65. @work, Blip and so many other boring retards with nothing but doctrinal responses would be absent, and there would be a much improved level of discussion.

  22. Redbaiter 22

    Travellerev, is depending upon Venzuelan oil for income a good idea or a bad idea?

  23. lukas 23


    I’m glad all you trolls are out there just waiting for a chance to pounce. I missed Billy and Lucas but I’m sure they will show up.

    Sorry, missed the text message, shoddy reception at my home at times!

    By the way, are you Catherine Delahunty?

  24. Will,


    That reminds me. We converted an old F&P washing machine to a broody nest. Very sustainable. You just take everything out, cut the corners of the bottom half and fold them inward to serve as the bottom and cut a round hole on the side as an entrance.
    Use the concrete slab to weight the top flap.

    Result a save little Chicken coop to nest in and our chickens loved it. LOL.

    Keep it in the shade though cause steel gets hot.

    By the way thank you for your vote a little way back.

  25. Rudith 25

    Hi Catherine,how about another lovely song?

  26. @ work 26

    See Bill- this moron will not take up the baton, instead he prefers childish off topic attempts at a put down that only show how bad his comprehension is. Your site would be much improved if rather than banning Redbaiter, you banned anyone with an IQ less than 65. @work, Blip and so many other boring retards with nothing but doctrinal responses would be absent, and there would be a much improved level of discussion.

    And still your unable or unwilling to tell us, fully explained, how less government, or less people, help to warn more people that bush fires are heading thier way?

  27. Redbaiter,

    Wow, that almost sounded like an invitation to reasoned debate.

    Read my previous comment. Depending on oil for income as a country isn’t very profitable on the whole at the moment, be it Venezuela or OPEC.

    The answer to that question puts paid to your assertion that Chavez somehow is responsible for the demise of the Venezuelan oil price.

    Big oil companies still make indecent amounts of money though.

    My question to you is therefore: Is it even remotely possible those selfsame oil companies have been manipulating the global oil prices in say oh, the last 8 years.

    Surely their profits went up the moment the US supported by their coalition of the willing killing went on a warring spree.


    So glad you could join us. I haven’t got a clue who Catherine Delahunty is.

    Now all we have to do it to await Billy’s arrival and our trolls are once again one big happy trolling family.

    Captcha: short-term-loan Wells. I don’t think even a short term loan is going to save Wells-Fargo from their financial demise LOL.

  28. lukas 28

    Thanks Trav, by the way, I think you should head down to your local Dick Smith and get a new keyboard, your “k” key seems to be typing “c” when you hit it.

    I’m a touch busy today, can you let me know what lines you are running so I can set up an auto reply of some sort?

    How are the levels of depleted uranium going?

  29. Lucas,

    Ah Lucas. Still the droll remarks man I see.

    DU? What does that have to do with the tread? tuttut, my man. You’re so predictable.

    If you want to learn about DU visit my site.

    This tread is about Shell not finding NZ interesting enough to keep their petrol stations going and its related topics.

  30. lukas 30

    oh dear, now your ‘h’ key seems to be on the blip.

    Pretty much.

    I figured you of all people would be able to draw DU into this or any conversation, perhaps there is some link with Bush, DU, September 11 and Shell that you could educate us on? LOL

  31. Felix 31

    lukas, if you’re bored why don’t you go outside and play with your little friends? It’s a lovely day.

    Oh, have you found anyone to talk to about Delahunty yet? Didn’t think so. Off you go.

  32. wil 32

    Ev yes another old F&P 400 case holds up one end of my heavy workbench in the shed still. So F&P you are not bastards after all. Recycleable, so good.

    Steve Pierson, what an inspired idea you have floated here. If Shell are selling their petrol stations, these being used by govt for recharging/battery exchange. The coming era of electric cars is ideal for our abundant electricity, the fact that the bulk of daily motoring is sub-100km commuting and already well within a single charge range at present, and the need for battery exchange stations for longer travelling. Charge rate technology is also getting to almost the same wait time as an average busy petrol station.

    Great possibilities in developing viable electric commuter vehicles here in NZ. Like our railways which are already much electrified.

    Local engineering expertise built our railway system away back in the steam era, most designed and built here. In those days people didn’t sneer like the trolls here today, they just got on and did it. Sounds like those days (1890s depression) are coming again. Hopefully the local work, engineering inspiration and make-do ethic remains, although so many lawyers so many economists! Not many engineers… able to write eloquent shite and lift lattes but not work in metal and plastics and inspired engineering concepts.

    Shame the magic that is kiwibank wont be repeated for quite a while. I just hope ingenious kiwi engineers are inspired to design viable electric cars in their sheds right now. Even on a bench held up by the F&P 400 case.

  33. Bloody hell Will,

    That’s not a bad idea at all. If Shell thinks that NZ is not going to make them much money than perhaps they will leave us the hell alone and we can get on with developing energy saving technology.

    I’m sure we can find simple jobs in the real world to do for our latte drinking office boys. lol.
    Who knows if they get hungry enough they might even do them for food and a bed.

    Captcha: $5 immaterial. Hmmm.

  34. SeaJay 34

    Woah, should I be worried that redhater writes of itself in the first person? Its i.q of 66 is not enough to maintain a constant character and context?

    IrishBill: I can’t really give RB grief for attacking other commenters if other commenters attack him just as baselessly. You’ve been warned.

  35. lukas 35

    Thanks for that suggestion Felix, but I have work to do today. The view outside over the five acres of bush is pretty nice to look at though.

    Yeah I have found other people who are amazed that our tax dollars pay for Ms Delahunty thanks, quite a few left wing people in that mix too.

  36. Felix 36

    Pleased to hear you’re busy, lukas. How is your paper round going?

  37. lukas 37

    if there was a paper boy where I live I would be surprised. As for the production and sourcing of products out of China, thats going great. No recession in China or in the agriculture supply game.

  38. Lucas,

    FYI, China is collapsing too. The Chinese leader are scared shitless for social unrest (a nice the description of mayhem for when 50 million people revolt) So I would enjoy it while you can.

  39. lukas 39

    Trav, I have a fairly good idea of what is going on over there. Some of the bad factories are going under, the good ones are doing fine as domestic demand hasn’t really gone down all that much.

    The company that I contract too is finding it hard to fill staff vacancies and to find enough suppliers for some of the products we manufacture.

  40. rave 40


    The problem isnt that Venezuela is dependent on oil, but rather that it doesnt own its oil yet. Adam Smith said produce what your good at, and buy the rest. But if someone else owns the oil and pumps out the income then their isnt much left to buy food. Chavez is well down the road to taking ownership of the oil back. We should do the same to key sectors of the NZ economy.
    Swapping the stuff we need to live on makes sense as the capitalist system crashes and is only kept alive by using the state to force us to pay for its bad debts. Why should it get rewarded with that future income stream from the people who do the work when it doesnt?
    I say let the system crash and burn and lets nationalise what we need to live on and trade what we don’t need and others do, for what we do need and they don’t.
    We would run much better with the lithium in the cars and not in our brains.

  41. Lucas,

    Dream on and enjoy while it last. 30 million unemployed people represents an awful lot of “bad” factories.
    Those 30 million are the people of the rural communities which send on or two of their unwed young family members (mostly girls to the big city. Their earnings represent 65% of the income of those families. That’s 30 million families who are loosing 65% of their annual income. That, whether you like it or not will lead to the collapse of local demand one way or the other.

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