The Insanity of Aotearoa New Zealand Closing it’s One and Only Oil Refinery

Aotearoa New Zealand is in the process of making the biggest strategic blunder in it’s contemporary history by closing it’s one and only oil refinery, leaving us at the mercy or lack there of, of the fossil fuel industry and the super powers arguing over the lasts of the planets resources.
“One of the changes with the transition is we’re less dependent on a single refinery than we were previously. And our supply will be coming from a range of refineries around the Asian region.”
– Naomi James, speaking on Newsroom Pro Talks
Having exactly Zero oil refineries in Aotearoa makes us less dependent? Smell a neoliberal rat anyone?

New Zealand pre-ordered more oil stocks just before Russia invaded Ukraine, increasing government reserves this month – at a critical time.

“The Government and New Zealand fuel companies together hold more than 1.7 million tonnes of oil in tanks, ship holds, and international ticket contracts acquired just in time for last week’s international action.”
“Just in Time”, this is how this culture teeters like the proverbial Jenga Stack.
Read and watch the Orwellian neo-liberal double speak embedded below. In one foul swoop we are now depending on BP and Exon Mobil to keep our trucks rolling. Watch the dystopian interview with this puppet here; NZ bolsters emergency oil stocks backed by offer of Marsden Point storage

This is late stage capitalism, risking everything because the balance sheet says it’s more profitable importing 100% of the nations refined fuel needs, than this entire country having One Oil Refinery !
Can the reader see how dependent this insane decision makes our isolated country to biosphere incinerating corporations? It’s clear to me that the government should nationalise this strategic asset asap.

There seems to be a stark conflict between the industry’s propaganda above and the government’s own data below;

“The Marsden Point Oil Refinery, near Whangarei, is New Zealand’s only oil refinery. It’s operated by Refining NZ. The refinery began operating in 1964, and is capable of processing enough oil to meet a majority of domestic demand.”

“Refining NZ processes crude oil and condensate for the 3 biggest oil companies active in New Zealand — BP, Mobil and Z Energy. Each of these companies has a stake in the refinery, with other shareholders holding a minority. The refinery produces a full range of petroleum products: petrol — diesel, kerosene-type jet-A1, fuel oil, bitumen and other petroleum products — but not aviation gasoline or lubricants.
Sulphur is recovered as a by-product and sold as a feedstock to the fertiliser industry. Recovered carbon dioxide is sold to the beverage industry.”

Oil statistics

This page contains data tables for oil production, transformation and consumption. It also includes some brief outlines of distribution and storage of oil products in New Zealand.

Readers of this blog know that I concentrate on the climate and extinction crises and the contemporaneous issue of the re-rise of fascism and subsequent collapse.
Not having a refinery means we’d suffer societal collapse in a matter of weeks of a blockade of our territorial waters being enforced, by whoever, “Friend or Foe”. Remember France was supposedly our ally when they blew up the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior murdering Fernando Pereira in down town Tamaki Makaurau.

Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior hours after she was attacked and Fernando Pereira murdered by the French DGSE.
Photo credit Martin Cahill, we were both standing there, crying, we didn’t even know each other at that time. Life long friendships were forged by this act of state sponsored terrorism. It’s why I’m so sceptical of allies with imperialist histories.

The wonderful Australian journalist Robert Fisk shot a documentary titled “The Coming War on China”.
When this war breaks out, whichever nation has dominance in the South Pacific will decide if we get refined oil. Give that some thought as we witness the Europeans going to war with each other, yet again.

This is how this strategic disaster is being sold to the NZ public as we become more dependent on BP and Exon Mobil FFS !

Seriously, the body politic in Aotearoa NZ seems to like to dine on dead rats.
“Greenpeace has slammed the Government over news that the crown minerals regulator has allowed Greymouth Petroleum to piggyback off an existing mining permit to commence seismic blasting in an adjacent area of more than 260 square kilometers.”

“Allowing new oil exploration now makes a mockery of Jacinda Ardern’s climate emergency declaration,” said Greenpeace Aotearoa programme director Niamh O’Flynn. “Which part of ‘Climate Crisis’ does this Government not understand?”

So we are going to keep drilling for oil that we can’t even refine or afford to burn! Picture super tankers coming, or not, with refined hydrocarbons and leaving with unrefined crude oil. Do the balance of payments and carbon emissions calculation on that idiotic transaction.
Greenpeace Slams Ardern Govt Over New Oil Exploration Ahead Of Latest IPCC Report

“David Korowicz explores the implications of a major financial crisis for the supply-chains that feed us, keep production running and maintain our critical infrastructure. He uses a scenario involving the collapse of the Eurozone to show that increasing socio-economic complexity could rapidly spread irretrievable supply-chain failure across the world.” Trade Off: Financial system supply-chain cross contagion – a study in global systemic collapse
Check out this superb article by Erik Michaels What Is Oil and Why Is It So Special?

Authors relevant background to this issue specifically;
I worked on the Marsden Point Oil Refinery Expansion Project in the early 1980’s, before I knew that incinerating hydro carbons was killing the living planet. Hence my mea culpa.
I was the Electricians Union Delegate on site. I once had the pleasure of having the Minister of Energy removed from the site on one of his visits, in my role as a safety officer.
Energy Minister Bill Birch came to survey his empire one day and I barrelled up to him, his security detail and our onsite security. The chiselled jawed security detail with attendant ear pieces, stood between us and demanded to know what I wanted !
I stood back, pointed at the ministers patent leather shoes and those of his security detail and said ” I’m a site safety officer. No one is allowed on this site without adequate safety equipment. Those shoes are non compliant and I’m requesting that you re-enter the mini van and get off my site immediately”. The site security guards, the ministers security, the minister and his acolytes looked at each other as site security mumbled “I’m afraid he’s right minister”, they scuttled off.
Shortly thereafter I was made redundant for refusing to sign an employment agreement removing my right to strike! Interesting times for a young radical in his mid- Twenties!

Naturally there is some public resistance to this latest idiocy.

“A video posted on the ‘Dig In at Marsden’ social media page says the protest will be an “occupation” aimed at securing Marsden Point’s refining capabilities.”

“Protesters have been claiming on social media they want to save “fuel security.”
Protesters set up camp at former Mardsen Point refinery

Be assured that the irony of me raving on about hydrocarbons and then advocating for the nationalisation of an oil refinery isn’t lost on me. It’s an acceptance that we are all “Born into Captivity” and my understanding of the Aerosol Masking Effect.
La Luta Continua.

I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

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Posted in Activism, Marsden Point Oil Refinery, Resource security, Seneca Cliff
10 comments on “The Insanity of Aotearoa New Zealand Closing it’s One and Only Oil Refinery
  1. Shallel says:

    That’s what I really respect about you, Kevin! No matter what the situation or cause, you have always been heroic and stalwart in your many battles against stupidity. If the idiot dementiarchs running corporate government had a milligram of your sense we could have lived long and well.
    Well there are a few sane ones left out here, and you know most of us. We will fight stupidity, ignorance, greed and lust for power till the bitter end!

    “Out! Out! Demons of Stupidity!” – Dogbert

    Liked by 2 people

  2. […] The Insanity of Aotearoa New Zealand Closing it’s One and Only Oil Refinery […]


  3. Kevin Hester says:

    “Leitch said Refining NZ went to the market not long ago and raised about $45 million to build additional tanks which would take months if not years to be built.”

    “New Zealand was supposed to hold 90 days’ worth of refined fuel at any one time but Leitch said the capacity for that amount was just not there at present.”


  4. Kevin Hester says:

    In this excellent edit from Tim I discuss the lunacy of closing our only oil refinery


  5. sealintheselkirks says:

    How about closing all sand extraction? Never hear anything about that but this showed up:

    Sand crisis looms as world population surges, U.N. warns

    from Reuters


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kevin Hester says:

    “We calculate a major conflict would threaten routes supplying 90% of refined fuel imports, coming from South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.”

    “Even if the routes between these countries and Australia do not pass through the South China Sea, most of the crude oil these countries import to produce that refined fuel does.”


  7. I love this, a ‘major’ conflict means exactly what? Oh that’s right, less oil being moved. Can’t have that now can we?

    No, that isn’t really the problem because in a nuclear war world a ‘major conflict’ would inevitably lead to the loser implementing the ‘use them or lose them’ rule.

    And why aren’t there all the rest of the ‘military forces’ loose in this are show, or all the bases from other countries that are ten thousand miles away included in this map? I mean, let’s be a little more honest than just the “saber rattling around Taiwan” that China is doing.

    Propaganda is so…slimy isn’t it?



  8. Kevin Hester says:

    “Officials refuse to release briefings about how much fuel New Zealand has or should keep on shore.

    In April New Zealand became totally reliant on tanker-imported fuel, after the Marsden Point Refinery ended processing.

    It came amid a widespread international focus on resource security, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and shutdowns of European gas pipes disrupted international supplies and prices of food and fuel. And as shipping and logistics routes suffered ongoing bottlenecks triggered by the pandemic.

    But despite an RNZ Official Information Request, officials refused to release ministerial briefings about how much fuel New Zealand had or should keep on shore.”


  9. Kevin Hester says:

    Aotearoa NZ’s folly of closing its only oil refinery will manifest as shortages sometime this year!
    We are led by donkeys, irrespective of which party rules.


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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

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