18 Mar 2013

Approval likely for Tararua oil exploration

3:45 pm on 18 March 2013

The regional council in Manawatu-Whanganui is expected to give the go-ahead for oil and gas drilling in the Tararua District, raising concerns it could lead to the controversial oil and gas drilling technique known as fracking.

Radio New Zealand News understands Tag Oil Limited and Apache Corporation will on Monday be granted consents to drill wells and bores on private land near Dannevirke.

The companies are awaiting final approval from Horizons Regional Council to explore for petroleum near Dannevirke but have already been given consent by Tararua District Council for work above ground at the site.

They want the waste, such as metal debris, drilling fluids and contaminated mud, to be trucked out of the district to two sites in South Taranaki.

Tararua farmer Donald James, who has formed an anti-drilling and fracking group called Lock the Gates, says oil exploration could be disastrous for the district, especially if the companies want to frack in the earthquake-prone area.

Mr James says consents do not mention fracking but he believes the nature of the rock means the technique would have to be used to get any oil.

He says the group is also worried about what might happen to the water supply once drilling begins.

The Environmental Defence Society says the public should have been consulted and many could file for a judicial review in the High Court.

Horizons Regional Council would not say whether the consents have been granted, but said a decision will be made this week.

It says the consents are not for fracking and the public did not have to be notified because it did not believe drilling for oil and gas would have an adverse affect on the environment.