Energy Minister accuses fuel companies in NZ of 'cynical behaviour' says millions going from pockets of ordinary Kiwis due to inflated prices

Energy Minister Megan Woods says quite possibly people are paying above the odds when it comes to fuel in New Zealand after a leaked email from BP revealed possible price gouging practices.

Ms Woods met with BP officials at Parliament tonight for an explanation and says she was "unconvinced" by their arguments.

Read more: Leaked BP emails 'add impetus' to enhancing Commerce Commission's role, PM says

"We could be looking at hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth going from the pockets of ordinary people and to the fuel companies," Ms Woods said after the meeting.

She says the fuel companies are guilty of "cynical behaviour" when it comes to setting fuel prices in New Zealand and it wasn't just an isolated case with BP.

However, she said the meeting with BP was constructive and they have co-operated with government in the past giving information on pricing when requested.

Ms Woods has given BP a letter and will send it to other fuel companies outlining her views and the next steps as an amendment to a law looks to be read in Parliament in the coming weeks in regards to the issue.

Ms Woods had a meeting with BP executives at Parliament today and accused them of "cynical behaviour". Source: 1 NEWS

It can be done' – Andrew Little outlines expected Pike River re-entry timeline

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little says "all going well" the mine "re-entry process" could start before the end of the year.

Speaking in Parliament's Question Time today, Mr Little outlined the fact that heading into the mine "can be done".

"To some extent re-entry will be season dependent due to barometric pressures, all things going well the re-entry process could begin to start before the end of the year," Mr Little said.

His comments today come as 31 international experts have been meeting near Greymouth this week and say there's no reason the mine drift can't be entered safely to search for the remains of those who died.

International experts have been meeting on the West Coast this week. Source: 1 NEWS

The remains of 29 men still lie deep inside the mine.

Almost eight years since the disaster, the team of experts from around the world is deciding whether it's safe to re-enter the 2.4 kilometre drift.

"The feeling amongst the room is they can't see anything that is a show stopper that we can't put controls around," said Dinghy Pattinson, Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer.

Also in the meeting room with the experts have been Pike family members. Their hopes were dashed in 2014 when Solid Energy declared the mine too risky to re-enter, but they didn't stop fighting.

"From what I've been privy to there is absolutely no reason why this can't be achieved," said Anna Osbourne, Pike River family member.

But nobody is saying it will be easy.

The preferred plan would see nitrogen pumped in to neutralise the methane gas that fuelled the fatal explosions.

"Leave that nitrogen over the top of the roof fall area where the previous fire was so you don't reignite the fire," Mr Pattinson said.

Then the drift would be flooded with fresh air, so those entering wouldn't need breathing apparatus.

In Parliament today the Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry was asked about the progress of re-entering the drift. Source: 1 NEWS


Most watched video: Feisty exchange between Winston and Paula Bennett over whether beneficiaries should be drug-tested

Note: This story first ran on Thursday May 3

Paula Bennett asked the PM via Mr Peters about the issue in Question Time today. Source: 1 NEWS

There has been a feisty exchange in Parliament today between Winston Peters and Paula Bennett over whether or not beneficiaries should be drug-tested as a means test to receive the benefit.

With the Prime Minister and Simon Bridges both absent from the House during Question Time, National's deputy leader asked the Deputy Prime Minister if beneficiaries should be drug free.

"The policies we're working on don't have that harsh provision, if someone is not drug free, it doesn't mean they're beyond redemption, that serious programmes cannot turn their lives around," Mr Peters shot back.

"We see the positive side of sound social policy, not the harsh, stringent side of right wing arrogance," he continued.

Ms Bennett didn't follow up on the issue after the comments and moved on to ask about other issues around beneficiary recipients.