West Coast Christians in search for gas

A West Coast Christian community is adding gas exploration to its successful oil-drilling project.

The Gloriavale Christian Community near Lake Haupiri, about 50 kilometres from Greymouth, is known for its business ventures, which include dairy farming and manufacturing gardening products from sphagnum moss.

Gloriavale-owned Ocean Harvest International says it will add coal-seam gas exploration to the oil drilling it has carried out in its 50 square kilometre permit area northwest of Lake Brunner.

Project manager Murry Cave said he expected to find a five-metre coal seam 480m below the surface that would be tested for its gas content and reservoir properties.

Cave said the Niagara-3 well produced oil last year but was drawing it from close to where it rested on top of subterranean water.

"So we are going to try to drill another one in a slightly more stable place."

Cave hoped the gas drilling would begin in the next week, although getting a rig on-site had been difficult as the ground had become sodden after heavy rain.

Gloriavale's other business ventures include deer, ostrich and sheep farming. The community also runs charter and scenic flights from Greymouth and Haupiri.

The business administrator for the community, Fervent Stedfast, said the oil and gas operations were at an experimental stage and it was too early to say how the resources would be used.

He did not want to discuss how the exploration was funded.

"It's certainly a West Coast project," Stedfast said.

"There's no external funding."

It has been estimated enough gas could be present to power 50,000 homes for 20 years.

The Press