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The oil and gas industry has lost its chief lobbyist, David Robinson, who is leaving to become the local chief executive of Vancouver-based New Zealand Energy Corp.
Robinson is leaving the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand just 14 months after his appointment as part of a strategy that saw PEPANZ add staff and beef up its public advocacy role as opposition both to deep-sea drilling and onshore hydraulic fracturing (fracking) mounted.
The former Shell and Z Energy executive effectively replaces the company's New Zealand country manager, Chris Bush, a former Origin Energy executive who left in December after completing the sale of oil and gas production and processing assets by Origin to NZEC.
However, Robinson's role would involve more stakeholder engagement than Bush's, which was focused on concluding what became a protracted transaction with Origin as NZEC struggled with capital-raising in a difficult global environment for small cap resource stocks.
The deal eventually saw serial resources investor Geoff Louthean's L&M Energy become a 50/50 joint venture partner in the acquisition of the Tariki, Waihapa, and Ngaere onshore oil and gas fields, and the associated Waihapa production facility.
Primarily involved in onshore Taranaki oil and gas production and exploration, NZEC also holds onshore East Coast exploration licences in areas where fracking is likely to be required if oil or gas extraction is to succeed.
A final report on fracking is overdue from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and is now expected around Easter. Her interim report, in 2012, provisionally declared the practice safe, subject to regulation and location.
Robinson was credited with giving the often controversial industry a friendlier public face, and he worked behind the scenes on legislation and regulation.
"David has done a great job. His professionalism, capable, caring and honest leadership have put PEPANZ in a strong position to move forward as an association," said its chairman, Paul Moore, the chief executive of Todd Energy.