No-one knows how much oil and gas there is on the East Coast, but if a decent amount is found the region will come into billions of dollars and up to 2300 jobs.
That was essentially the gist of the East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study, released in Napier today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges and local council representatives.
The report was light on detail, pointing out that more exploration is needed before any accurate recommendations can be made.
Joyce said the report was a bid to get communities to consider the economic benefits of oil and gas development.
Recent bids to explore for oil or gas in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne have been met with community opposition and this, along with regulatory regimes and other factors, has contributed to companies losing interest in the area, Joyce said.
He said it was up to the communities to decide and he hoped the study would help to inform them before they made a decision.
Bridges said the study was about stimulating discussion between Government, the community, iwi and industry as to what opportunities may be available if development eventuated.
The $130,000 report was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment with support from local authorities on the East Coast from Tararua to Gisborne.
Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie said the report "makes some optimistic claims about benefits but glosses over the risks and has almost no worthwhile analysis of the economic impacts, let alone social and cultural impacts of this industry, should it come to dominate the region".
"One of the few redeeming features of the report is that, based on geological analysis and economic modelling, it suggests commercial petroleum development in the region is highly unlikely" said Caddie.
Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said the Government should shed its obsession with petroleum and look to create clean, green jobs.
"The most likely East Coast oil and gas development scenario, which is backed by data from the Crown entity GNS Science, creates only 199 jobs. In contrast, 910 manufacturing jobs were lost in the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay area in the first three years of this John Key Government.
"The Government should focus on stemming the manufacturing crisis before it sells the East Coast to foreign oil companies for a quick buck," Hughes said.
- The Dominion Post