A Government report on a potential oil and gas drilling operation off the East Coast of the North Island claims if a decent amount is found in the region it could create over 2300 jobs and generate billions of dollars.
The East Coast Oil and Gas Development Study, released in Napier by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today, was commissioned to look at the benefits, impacts and risks of petroleum development.
"The study shows that if significant oil discoveries on the East Coast were found they could become a real game changer for households and businesses in that region and across New Zealand," Joyce said in a statement today.
The report said that in all cases, there is a significant increase in Crown revenue, from $90m with a small-scale development, $2b in a large-scale development, or up to $7.7b in the large-scale, high-volume scenario.
And it found from 200 to over 2,300 jobs could be created in the region.
Steven Joyce said it is more likely that oil and gas would pump between $360m to $5b a year into the region and give about 1000 people jobs.
"Of the jobs created in the oil and gas industry in the region, it is assumed that initially 50% would go to locally based employees, but over time the proportion of locally based workers would increase to 95%," the study read.
Joyce said East Coast communities could enjoy similar benefits to a region like Taranaki, where oil and gas operations contribute $2 billion to New Zealand's annual GDP and supports more than 5000 regional jobs.
"If you're staring down the barrel and your region of 9% unemployment which they are, then actually it's probably owing it to yourself and to your families and to your people to consider carefully the opportunities" Joyce said.
Brian Kirk, who has been working the land in Hawke's Bay for 40 years, fears extensive oil and gas mining in the region could ruin the environment and pollute waterways.
"We could have total disruption to the whole underground system which is one of the basic resources of Hawke's Bay, that and the sunshine are out total producers," the farm contractor said.
Critics of the report, including a Gisborne District Councillors, say it is biased and glosses over the risks.
"The Government have kind of put all the eggs in the basket of mining and extraction when really when we should be investing in some sustainable options," Gisborne District Councillor, Manu Caddie said.
The Labour Party says the report is "light on economic analysis".
"It estimates that between 200 and 2000 jobs will be created. That sounds suspiciously like 'pick a number' to me," Labour's Energy and Resources spokesperson Moana Mackey says.
It said the Government should focus on repairing and maintaining the Gisborne to Napier rail line to support local exporters.
"The potential for sustainable economic development is there, all that is lacking is the political will from the Government," Mackey said.
The environmental impact was also taken into consideration in the study, the Government said.
The study outlines that before any development can take place, companies are required to meet the requirements of environmental legislation that manages the effects of activity via the Resource Management Act 1991, and has provision to recognise the significance of particular sites.