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Biofuels Mandate The Ultimate In Hypocrisy

Today's announcement by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods of a biofuels mandate for the transport sector is the ultimate in hypocrisy when she is not prepared to take action to keep the Marsden Point oil refinery operational.

Marsden Point is the only facility in New Zealand capable of blending biofuels with fossil fuels to achieve the mandate targets and of extending into production of biofuels.

That means that all the biofuels necessary to meet the target will have to be produced overseas and blended overseas into imported refined fuel, resulting in a massive hike in fuel prices.

Biofuels are three to five times more expensive than fossil fuel and there is already much greater demand than supply capability.

Naomi James, CEO of the company running the Marsden Point oil refinery said she had warned the government against relying solely on biofuel imports. (Newsroom 12th December).

“Unlike crude oil based refined fuel markets the global market for new fuels such as biofuels is not well developed” according to Ms James.

And Sami Jauhiainen, renewable aviation vice president for Neste, the world's biggest renewable fuels company, was reported (Newsroom 12th December) as saying that there are co-processing companies running fossil fuel refineries and replacing part of the feed with renewable materials – exactly what could happen at Marsden Point.

He acknowledged that producing the fuels locally would eventually become more cost-effective.

Marsden Point refinery should be kept operational to blend imported biofuels with fossil fuels in the meantime and to ensure we have the capability to do that when locally produced biofuels come on-stream.

Ministry of Transport supply chain manager Harriet Shelton said last week that “supply chains all over the world were optimised for efficiency so were not always well placed to cope with shocks and instability”

“There'll be all sorts of other factors that are probably going to stay in an unstable situation, for example, geopolitical issues” she went on to say (Newsroom 12th December).

Anyone who thinks that relying on imported fuel will lead to lower prices or a stable supply is delusional.

The potential for Marsden Point to become a green energy hub – a place where advanced new technology options like plastic to fuel, waste to energy, carbon capture, and desalination could have been deployed will disappear if the refinery closes.

I’m calling on the government to reconsider its position on taking ownership of the refinery, to keep it operational to provide ongoing fuel security for essential services, and capability for new fuel technologies. The petition is open for submissions until January 25th.

From Chris Leitch, Leader, Whangarei Candidate.

© Scoop Media

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