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Oil and gas goes nation-wide


Stewart Island and Gisborne are the latest victims of the growing oil and gas industry. Yesterday, Gisborne District Council granted TAG Oil and Apache Corporation a resource consent to install a well pad at Kanakanaia, north east of Te Karaka, near Gisborne. Today, Southland District Council issued a resource consent to Greymouth Petroleum for one drilling well on a site at Horseshoe Bay Road on Stewart Island.

Neither of the applications were publicly notified. On Stewart Island, written approvals of all adjoining landowners and occupiers were received by Council according to a Council media release. However, there are many dissenting voices.

According to Stewards Island resident Mark Rutherford McPherson "pretty much the locals have been brushed aside in consultation. [...] Basically all the locals are against with a few for who are getting money."

Green MP Catherine Delahunty says "the National Government is failing to protect our special places by allowing mineral surveys in World Heritage Areas and oil exploration on Rakiura/Stewart Island which is known for its conservation values."

In Gisborne, the consent does not involve any exploratory drilling but only a "well pad [which] will facilitate the drilling of an exploratory well." This deceptive step by step approach by the companies is well-known in Taranaki. A track will lead to pad, to a well conductor, water monitoring bore and then to a ... yes, you guessed correctly: not a dairy effluent pond but a drilling frack-site.

The oil and gas industry in NZ is expanding at an unprecedented rate. While a lot of capital is needed for large scale projects (think offshore: Maui, Pohokura, Raukumara Basin) there are several smaller companies operating in Taranaki with enough capital to do onshore drilling on a smaller scale. Greymouth Petroleum have been fracking around Waitara for many years. TAG Oil is a Canadian company (but only operating in NZ) who has been in the news a lot for its fracking operations around Stratford and Ingelwood.

A drilling rig on Rakirua/Stewart Island ... what might have sounded like an impossibility yesterday in 'clean green NZ' is a reality today. The Southland District Council has made the unthinkable possible. Hopefully, the response of the green movement will not only be a media release by a Green MP.




- Environmental Defence Society

Gisborne District Council has granted resource consents to TAG Oil and Apache Corporation for site establishment works for a drilling platform on a property in Te Karaka. The application was not publicly notified and the Council decided not to defer the decision until it received related applications for the exploratory drilling which are expected.

“The consented activities are clearly stage one of a petroleum exploration activity. The site will be of no value to the applicants if they do not gain consent for drilling activities,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“The RMA allows Councils to defer considering a consent application until all consents required for the proposal are received. It is best practice for all required consents for an activity to be identified from the outset, applied for contemporaneously and considered together. This ensures that all environmental effects can be taken into account in deciding whether consents should be granted.

“If the applicants are allowed to apply for resource consents incrementally this can mean that later consents are granted based on the baseline created by the earlier consent. This is a piecemeal approach. “By splitting things up like this, the applicants are effectively gaming the system to make it easier for them to get consent for exploration drilling.

“We are concerned that this practice seems be spreading with oil exploration companies adopting the same approach elsewhere in the country.

“We also note that the Gisborne District Council has decided to grant the resource consents on a non-notified basis, excluding even immediate neighbours from having a say. This ignores the clear evidence of visual, traffic and noise effects.

“If the decision on notification had been deferred until all the consent applications had been received it is likely the Council would have decided to notify.

“EDS is extremely concerned about the approach taken by both the applicant and the Gisborne District Council and we are looking at potential legal action.

“We are not opposed to oil exploration but we really want to see these large international companies like TAG Oil playing fair and doing things properly,” Mr Taylor concluded.

It's very hard to get concrete right

It's very hard to get concrete right. Too much water, not enough cement, or various pollutants which can get into the concrete mixture, will all ruin an attempt to make a good concrete foundation. If there are any concrete workers out there, I encourage you to do some digging before you pour, and find out what your employer has you building. If it's something unethical, like anything to do with the fossil fuel industry, or concentration... er... prisons for dissenters, maybe you could temporarily forget how a good concrete mixture is made?

If a group of concerned citizens can get to Gisborne at the appropriate time, maybe with a water truck, and hose away the concete pad before it's set, that would be good too.