Industry backs Todd fracking report

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 08:38 09/11/2012

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Major players in the oil and gas industry have spoken in support of a report saying the industry will become unprofitable if fracking is banned.

Lobby group Pepanz, Shell and the New Zealand Energy Corporation (NZEC) yesterday backed Todd Energy's claim fracking was essential for the continuing success of the industry.

The report, which was the result of a three-month research project, was issued as a submission to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's inquiry into hydraulic fracturing which is due to be released in three weeks.

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association New Zealand president David Robinson said Todd was right that fracking made a critical difference to the volume of gas that could be extracted from reserves and said it had already proved its worth with the reopening of the Methanex plants in Taranaki.

NZEC country manager Chris Bush said while NZEC did not currently employ fracking techniques, banning it would remove the possibility of using it in the future.

"We might [frack] in the future and I think it's important that new technology is brought into the industry in a managed way, and we embrace the use of technology such as this provided the right controls and governance is put around it."

He said stopping fracking would not kill the industry overnight but it "would certainly put a damper on the potential the industry could create in terms of jobs and economic contribution to the nation".

Shell NZ chairman Rob Jager said research showed by 2050 the global demand for energy was expected to have doubled and using fracking to unlock more natural gas could make a significant contribution to New Zealand's economic future and the security of the country's electricity supply, particularly when renewable hydro and wind generation was not available.

He said safety and environmental protection were the highest priorities and it was appropriate energy companies were held accountable for the techniques they used.

But the Green Party has called the Todd report "industry spin".

"Turkeys don't vote for an early Christmas. It is not surprising Todd Energy is calling for its controversial practices to be allowed to continue without more strict oversight," Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said.

Hughes also highlighted examples of unsafe practices including groundwater contamination at Shell Todd Energy's Kapuni wellsites where fracking had occurred.

"Shell Todd Energy's sites were contaminated by a dispersed plume of dissolved hydrocarbons, and clean-up of the soil is underway with truckloads being transported to Wellington for treatment," he said.

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Hughes said he was still waiting for a comprehensive historical list of all chemicals used in fracking in Taranaki in the last 22 years.

"Shell Todd Oil's own report from 2011 found that discharge of fracking fluids in Taranaki resulted in groundwater contamination that was unsuitable for drinking, stock use, or for irrigation.

"Our economy depends on our clean green environment - we need rules to protect our environment and our economy, not rules to benefit polluting industries."

- Taranaki Daily News

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