East Coast oil search cranks up

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013

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An oil and gas company embarking on an "aggressive exploration programme" on the East Coast has applied to run seismic searches near Mahia and Wairoa.

Canada-based New Zealand Energy Corp has applied for resource consents from Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Gisborne District Council to take water for seismic surveying at two sites, near Frasertown, west of Wairoa, and Morere, between Wairoa and Gisborne.

The company has applied to take water from streams for drilling required to conduct seismic activities this month.

The company's New Zealand manager, Chris Bush, said that, although the region had had many surveys over many years, none had taken place in the areas targeted, or in as much detail.

Drilling of holes up to 12 metres deep will not occur within 25m of waterways or 200m from bores, houses or wahi tapu sites. A helicopter or tractor will be used to transport drilling rigs. All sites will be restored to their previous state.

The company said it had contacted local iwi Ngati Kahungunu about its plans and would continue to consult.

In October the company entered a joint agreement with Westech Energy NZ and became 80 per cent owner and operator of a permit covering about 1000 square kilometres on the East Coast.

The company, which was formed in 2010 and has producing wells in Taranaki, hopes to "unlock the potential of New Zealand's oil shale formations" on the East Coast.

"Despite its highly prospective geology and numerous oil and gas seeps, New Zealand remains highly underexplored," its website says. "All of the current production is derived from conventional targets using vertical wells and little if any hydraulic fracturing [fracking] or other enhanced technology."

The councils will decide whether the applications require notification. Regional council group manager of resource management Iain Maxwell said the application to his council was likely to be non-notified.

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- The Dominion Post

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