Tag Oil drilling plan set for fight

MATT RILKOFF AND RYAN EVANS
Last updated 05:00 14/05/2012
tdn tag stand
CAMERON BURNELL
Days after getting the go-ahead to buy its Inglewood drill site, Tag Oil is fighting the neighbours.

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Just days after getting the go-ahead to buy its Inglewood drill site, a Canadian oil and gas company must now fight neighbours opposed to its expansion plans.

The Overseas Investment Office last month permitted Tag Oil to purchase a 12.9 hectare block in Upper Durham Road to facilitate current and future operations.

The "Sidewinder" site already contains a drilling platform and Tag Oil have lodged plans to expand that platform and drill four more wells – a move two of their neighbours have opposed.

The neighbours cite noise and visual pollution, loss of property value, effect on family, flaring, disruption of "general living, health and well being" and sleep disturbance as reasons for their opposition.

Tomorrow the matter will go before the New Plymouth District Council's Hearings Commission.

The hearing comes just days after Taranaki Regional Council director of resource management, Fred McLay, dismissed concerns raised by environmental campaigner Sarah Roberts over flaring at three well sites near Stratford.

In an email sent to dozens of politicians, media outlets and interest groups, Ms Roberts complained about flaring at the Cheal A, Copper-Moki and Radnor well sites, all near Stratford.

She said she and her family had serious concerns about their safety and wellbeing because of the flaring at Cheal, also Tag Oil wells.

But in reply, Mr McLay said flaring at all three sites was within resource consent requirements.

He said the TRC had studied the environmental effect on air quality in 1998 and again this year and those studies had shown there was no change in air quality within 200 metres of flaring.

The NPDC report on Tag Oil's Sidewinder plan has recommended it be given the thumbs up but with conditions.

They include heavy vehicle traffic generated by the well site avoiding school bus times and ceasing altogether between 10pm and 7am and approval of a plan of the site showing location of sound barriers before drilling starts.

Three of the four wells are expected to take up to two weeks to drill with a rig operating for 24 hours through that period.

One of the wells is for a deeper target and could take up to 28 days.

Should the NPDC Hearings Commission decide against the expansion, Tag Oil has the option of appealing to the Environment Court.

Last week, Tag Oil Taranaki-based chief operating officer Drew Cadenhead said the 12.9ha was a three-paddock lifestyle block.

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He said most of that land would be leased back to a neighbour for normal dairy-farming use.

Meanwhile, Mr McLay revealed the TRC had spent more than $25,000 addressing concerns, particularly over fracking, raised by Ms Roberts in the last nine months.

"This includes undertaking water quality sampling in the vicinity of the Cheal B well site that you now refute. Your complaints have not been substantiated," Mr McLay said.

"By way of context, the Stratford District Council recently noted it had done all it could with the various environmental matters you had raised concerning the Cheal well sites.

"This council has also formed a similar view."

- Taranaki Daily News

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