A petroleum exploration company is applying for permits to search parts of the South Island for a controversial source of natural gas.
L & M Energy says it has applied for five exploration permits for shale gas, covering more than 26,000 km/sq of South Island land, mainly in western Southland and the Canterbury plains.
Shale gas is a booming industry around the world, especially in the United States where it already accounts for about one sixth of gas production.
The gas is methane released from underground mud-rock by a process called fracking, which new technology and the surging price of oil has made attractive again.
The company says the gas has lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal, but some scientists say its release will speed up global climate change
L & M Energy says it plans to become a leading player in shale gas exploration.