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Oil industry character bows out

Oil industry character bows out

After over six years at the helm of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association (PEPANZ), Mike Patrick, executive officer, is moving on to semi-retirement in sunny Riwaka near Nelson.

He says the industry has changed markedly during his time. “When I started there were three major names dominating the sector; Shell, Todd and Fletchers. It is now quite different and while there are still some big names, the dynamics have changed and there is now quite a number of small and medium sized companies providing a much wider perspective.

“This broadening of the sector and, of course the subsequent expansion of membership of PEPANZ has been a big help when representing industry to government in promoting policy changes. Expanding and uniting the membership of the association was vital as it enabled us to become a key industry player, not just in oil and gas exploration, but in energy policy.

“A large and representative membership not only gives the association credibility, but allowed us to build the debate with ministers and the news media alike. They all know who we are and what we stand for,” Mike Patrick said.

He leaves a big challenge behind him.

“The New Zealand Energy Strategy has to convince a disbelieving and reluctant population that fossil fuels will be the fuels for some years to come and therefore must be in within the framework of the Strategy. It will be a struggle, and the PR and management around this fact will need to work hard to achieve this.

“Setting New Zealand’s climate change policy and response too continues to be a challenge and will have to come within the overarching Strategy package. This was an issue when I began work at PEPANZ and it has become an issue again,” he said.

He says he has few regrets as he leaves to take up some part-time work with environmental consultancy REM, as well as to enjoy the good life.

“Maybe we could have been a in a better position regarding gas supplies if officials and ministers had heeded our arguments two or three years earlier than they did. But really, we have to recognise that governments do move slowly, and in reality we had a great run, and I am very proud of that.

“I am still a bit annoyed though that three or four companies have continued to freeload on all the benefits of our work, such as the reforms in the taxation and royalty regime, without being members of PEPANZ.

“But, overall, I am a bit sad to be leaving now. After all this time, I believe that the next 18 moths to two years will see a big upsurge in government interest in the industry, and while I will watch with interest from the wings, I am a bit sorry that I won’t be part of the process,” Mike Patrick said.


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