Oil-search forum suggested

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 12/02/2014

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A stakeholder group could be formed in Tararua as interest in the district's potential oil reserves increases.

An application has been made by Schlumberger Seaco, which already operates in Taranaki, to prospect for oil off the Tararua coast.

This follows the drilling of an exploratory well by Tag Oil last summer near Dannevirke.

Staff from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals told a meeting of Horizons Regional Council's strategy and policy committee yesterday that Tag was expected to dig a second well this year.

They pitched the idea of a regional stakeholder forum covering Tararua and Hawke's Bay and including local authorities, conservationists, landowners, farmers and potentially industry.

NZPAM regional relationships manager Jonathan Gibbard said the forum would look to produce a report after about 12 months, outlining the problems and solutions related to oil and gas operations in their area.

NZPAM is the government agency that approves or declines applications to prospect for or to extract oil or minerals.

Cr Murray Guy raised concerns about the cost of the council being involved in the stakeholders forum, particularly if new research would have to be conducted to inform its findings.

Mr Gibbard said any costs to the council would likely be administrative and that rather than conducting research as part of the forum the group could conclude in its report that further research was required.

The council was to debate the idea during the public excluded section of yesterday's meeting.

During the public portion councillors did receive a report on the Schlumberger application which covers more than 50,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean from Hawke's Bay to east of the top of the South Island.

The waters off the Tararua coast are at the centre of this area.

If NZPAM approves the application Schlumberger will be able to do seismic and aerial surveys and desktop studies.

Any work that affects the environment would require either a resource consent or approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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- Manawatu Standard

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