OPINION: The oil and gas industry hasn't had a lot a good press in recent years and it's pretty much the same the world over.
Sometimes it's justified, a lot of the time it's not, but there is little doubt that times are changing.
An increased environmental awareness throughout the world has the energy industry on notice that it needs to be more sensitive to the earth's ecology. That is the result of a more informed populace, in part due to the increased activity and voice of the environmentalists.
Nevertheless, as long as every safeguard is put in place, regularly monitored, enforced and regulated as and when needed, the vast majority of us can all peacefully co-exist.
That's why Matt Rilkoff's lead story on Saturday (Chemically Enhanced? Jan 19) would have come as a revelation to many readers. To read that the average Taranaki pay packet advertised on the seek.co.nz website is $93,317, almost $20,000 more than the national average of $74,295, is a revelation itself.
Just to add an extra bit of spice to the statistic, the Taranaki figure was a whopping 23.6 per cent increase on the same figure last January. The website put the rise down to a strong oil and gas sector looking for a surge of highly skilled workers. That gives an insight into the state of the energy sector. It's fair to say New Zealand is an attractive place to work for the large, but highly mobile, workforce in the industry.
Recent shocking events in Algeria, where close to 100 people died during a terrorist siege of a natural gas plant, would only serve to underline the reputation of New Zealand and Taranaki as safe havens for workers.
In 2009 the industries extracting and exploiting Taranaki's petrochemical resources employed 5090 people. In just three years it is estimated that the job numbers have increased to about 7000, which represents more than 11 per cent of all workers in Taranaki.
Industry representatives from the restaurant, accommodation, motor vehicles sales and banking sectors all reported the significance of the highly paid oil and gas industry employees to their industries.
The money earned does go around our regional economy, with an estimated injection of $2.6 billion to our regional gross domestic product.
Obviously that's not to be sniffed at.
It's also pertinent to note that the real contribution of these overseas workers to our region is far more diverse than simply just economic benefits.
Sponsorship to a wide range of groups and causes is commonplace by the companies, while many of the workers contribute in a more personal way to myriad community projects, school events, sporting and cultural activities. That's why Matt Rilkoff's story was a timely reminder of the hugely positive contributions these men and women bring to our region.
The health of the farming industry is still our No 1 key economic indicator, but the more diverse our economic base is, the better off we'll be.
Taranaki - Like No Other, indeed!
- © Fairfax NZ News
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