About the Marsden Point Refinery
The refinery is owned by Refining NZ. It refines crude oil that is imported on behalf of its customers - BP, Z Energy, Mobil and it gets a margin on the refining process. Those oil companies dominate the shareholding - 46%.
Although originally built in the 1960s the refinery has been massively expanded and upgraded over the years and produces high quality fuels. As its web site says “Refining NZ has a reputation as one of Asia Pacific’s safest and most reliable refineries.”
About 15% of the oil refined at Marsden Point comes from Taranaki. The rest of the crude is from the Middle East. All refineries need a blend of light and heavy crudes. The rest of the Taranaki crude goes to the older less complex refineries in Australia.
The Australain Government has secured its fuel security by ensuring that two refineries are left operating there, subsidised by a levy on fuel. One is owned by Ampol which is currently making a bid for NZ’s largest retail chain Z Energy. Ampol currently also own retailer Gull which imports most of its product refined in Australia but gets some from Marsden Point.
The refinery has always operated profitably and returned good dividends to the shareholders. It had a bad year last year with demand well down due to covid. They expect a poor year this year too. Their economic advisors expect that to resolve itself and for it to be profitable through to at least 2035.
Those dominant oil company shareholders have stakes in refineries in Asia with excess capacity and can get crude refined there cheaper, therefore increasing their profit.
The plan is to close Marsden Point by next year and dismantle most of it and sell it for scrap. The tank farm will remain to store the imported refined fuel.
That leaves NZ reliant on imported refined fuel.
In a crisis - supply chain problems - due to natural disaster or geo-political conflict (China/US or Middle East) our supplies could well be cut off.
If the refinery closes the carbon emissions profile will simply be transferred to Asia and increased through more tanker movements to get refined fuel to NZ. That will increase the world’s carbon emissions not reduce them. It is irresponsible and dishonest to claim that the refinery and NZ will reduce their carbon emissions when in fact they will be added to those of another country.
Expert assessments obtained as part of the recent consenting process noted that, based on the last five years of data, the effects of Refining NZ activities on the environment have in general been less than minor.
Twenty Largest Shareholders
1. Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited - 53,760,000 shares - 17.18%
2. Z Energy Limited - 47,999,980 shares - 15.34%
3. BP New Zealand Holdings Limited - 31,572,640 shares - 10.09%
4. Accident Compensation Corporation - 29,955,682 shares - 9.57%
5. Citibank Nominees (New Zealand) Limited - 13,274,879 shares - 4.24%
6. HSBC Nominees (New Zealand) Limited - 10,402,171 shares - 3.32%
7. Leveraged Equities Finance Limited - 6,028,186 shares - 1.93%
8. New Zealand Depository Nominee Limited - 5,223,922 shares - 1.67%
9. BNP Paribas Nominees (NZ) Limited - 4,980,759 shares - 1.59%
10. UBS New Zealand Limited - 4,601,641 shares - 1.47%
11. BNP Paribas Nominees (NZ) Limited - 3,993,683 shares - 1.28%
12. JP Morgan Chase Bank NZ Branch - Segregated Clients Acct - 3,497,624 shares - 1.12%
13. FNZ Custodians Limited - 3,349,799 shares - 1.07%
14. Public Trust Class 10 Nominees Limited - 3,118,624 shares - 1.00%
15. HSBC Nominees (New Zealand) Limited A/C State Street - 2,464,801 shares - 0.79%
16. Custodial Services Limited - 2,302,649 shares - 0.74%
17. ASB Nominees Limited - 1,812,360 shares - 0.58%
18. Custodial Services Limited - 1,498,321 shares - 0.48%
19. Century Securities Limited - 1,360,000 shares - 0.43%
20. Public Trust - 1,360,000 shares - 0.43%
On 14 September 2019, state-owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia were targeted in a drone attack.
The scale of disruption from the above attack was significant: oil production from the world’s leading oil exporter was cut by half, representing approximately 5% of global oil production and the largest production disruption in history. This resulted in the biggest surge in global oil prices since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait with oil futures spiking almost 20%. The current situation in Afghanistan should be noted.
There is growing evidence to suggest that the world is moving from a period of relative geopolitical stability towards a new phase of geopolitical uncertainty, and that this change could bring with it new risks. Arguably one of the more compelling signs of this shift is the decline in the influence of the US in international affairs relative to other large economies like China and India, making global governance more complex.
New Zealand’s current oil security policies have remained largely unchanged over the past 40 years. The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Fuel Plan of March 2020 sets out the fact that approximately a third of our reserve stocks of crude and refined product are held overseas – ie. in another country as part of their stocks.
Should NZ adopt an import only model and events such as those outlined about eventuate what guarantees are in place to obtain access to those reserves to ensure continuity of supply for NZ?
Will the Asian refineries say - oops we're short of oil, but that's ok we'll ensure our smallest customer New Zealand gets what it needs before our bigger customers?
Medium-term quantitative model-based energy scenarios are almost universally used to play out possible futures, options, and policy effects, and invariably focus on technical and energy-economic dimensions such as changes in demand and supply, greenhouse gas emissions, and supply costs. Existing oil security reports that guide the New Zealand Government’s policy making on oil security exemplify these limitations. Perhaps more surprising is that there has been very little in-depth research examining the exposure and vulnerability of each element of New Zealand’s oil supply chain beyond its borders.
In contrast, the Australian Government has highlighted geopolitical uncertainty as part of its justification for an ongoing review of its oil supply chain and the appropriateness of its policy settings, given Australia’s potential exposure to disruptions. It has determined that it is necessary to keep two refineries operational.
What does the NZ government know about security of supply that the Australian government doesn’t?
Consultants Hale and Twomey produced 2 reports at a cost of about $70,000 for MBIE this year. The second report was provided after consultation with the oil companies.
The first report highlighted and end to the coastal oil tankers - which distribute Marsden Point's products - as a concern, but the second one didn’t.
So too, for the risks of ready-made imports not being up to standard. The second report says this can be dealt with, without needing a refinery.
The second report does not mention the risk of an end to the local supply of sulphur for fertiliser, or the loss of local skills in oil processing.
No taxpayer money would be required for the government to assume ownership of the refinery. The Government owned Reserve Bank has already created around $60 billion in the last 18 months and the money needed to purchase the refinery shares would be a drop in the bucket.
“The government can borrow from the Reserve Bank. To be technical, it’s literally borrowing from itself. We should not close off any [options] just because somebody told us 30 years ago that it was bad.” Ganesh Nana, Senior Economist and Research Director of BERL - Radio NZ Morning Report 16.04.20.
“Issuing money in the current circumstances has impeccable support from mainstream economic thinking. In the current context it is the correct, most efficacious way to proceed. [Govt] should not be prisoners of outmoded, arch-conservative political doctrines.” Dr Geoff Bertram, former Senior Lecturer in Economics at Victoria University - BERL website 06.04.20; & NZ Herald 13.04.20
Having the refinery in operation will allow us to blend bio-fuels, fuels from carbon capture, plastic and other options as they come on stream. Find out more about that here - https://www.socialcredit.nz/green-energy-hub
Government ownership is key to breaking the stranglehold the oil companies have on fuel retailing. It could become a wholesaler of fuel, selling at a common price, allowing smaller retail operators like Waitomo and Gas to enter the market and provide real price competition at the pump.