The Deepwater Horizon burns out of control

Imagine, if you will, Anadarko – the Texan oil giant – and the other members of the world’s deep sea oil clan, as a kind of Stetson-wearing Mr Darcy.

Now picture John Key, and Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley, as a pair of Victorian wannabe brides, fluttering their eyelashes from the storm-lashed, remote waters of little ol’ Noo Zealand.

It’s a romance that Key’s Government would have us believe is going gangbusters – Mr Darcy just can’t wait to get down here and meet the parents, as it were, and turn our deep, pristine waters into a fast-cash-cow – as though there is such a thing. He’s done his best to clean up that thing in the Gulf of Mexico (man, that was one hell of a mess), and he’s ready for everyone else to forgive and forget.

Except that the reality ain’t quite as rosy. Our waters are remote and exposed, and the infrastructure isn’t what it could be – in fact, it’s non-existent. And the parents have heard about Mr Darcy’s big accident, that required 6000 ships to try and fix up – and which left an enormous bill for Uncle Sam.  

In the early hours of yesterday morning, an Anadarko executive casually let drop  during one of those long, long teleconferences (at least he didn’t do it by text) that for the second time in two years, they were going to delay the big date. Anadarko has postponed its plans to start deep sea exploratory drilling, either off Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island, or off the Canterbury and Otago Coasts, until “late 2013”.

Phil Heatley put on a brave face, saying that being well-mannered Southerners, they had already told him that they weren’t coming – this year. But it obviously hurt, because Phil hadn’t told anyone else.

It’s a shame though, because while Phil and John pine for the likes of Anadarko, there’s a much better prospect, right under their noses. It’s New Zealand’s world-beating clean energy industry, whose torso ripples with expertise in geothermal, wind, hydro and biomass. He’s housetrained – won’t make a nasty mess – and has the potential to be a good solid earner, in a changing world that won’t suffer high emissions for much longer.

Despite various groups all doing their utmost to act as cherub – including Pure Advantage, a group of some of New Zealand’s leading business people, all of whom see the benefits of clean energy in maintaining our clean, green, ‘pure’ reputation -  here’s hoping that our Government can see the light, sooner rather than later. Still, so far at least, Phil and John are smitten, looking north, waiting for the love of their lives to sweep them away in a blizzard of jobs and cash. Next year, they tell themselves.