Oil spill fouls Taranaki stream

21:14, Jun 05 2012

A Canadian oil company is in trouble with the Taranaki Regional Council after crude oil spilled from its Copper-Moki wellsite into the Ngaere Stream.

The council is considering taking legal action against the company after the spill, which happened in April at the Cheal Rd wellsite of Vancouver-based New Zealand Energy Corporation.

A separator failure had caused oil to discharge into a flare pit, according to the unauthorised incident register, which was on the agenda at the council's consents and regulatory committee yesterday.

Oil leached into the soil and entered a tile drain, where it flowed through a manhole into the stream. The amount of oil was not specified.

The unauthorised incidents register also shows the council is investigating another NZEC site.

A routine inspection at NZEC's Talon wellsite in Crompton Rd, Alton, found the council had not been informed that the site had been reinstated, which is contrary to the resource consent.

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In the past month, two oil companies were fined for breaching resource consents.

Cheal Petroleum did not give the council sufficient notice that flaring was to occur at its production station at Ngaere, however, the flaring itself was within the resource consent conditions.

And Kea Petroleum was fined for breaching its resource consent at the Puka wellsite in Hu Rd, Eltham, regarding best practice options not being followed. The problem with the site still hasn't been rectified, and the council is considering further action.

But no further action will be taken against Greymouth Petroleum Acquisition Company for breaching its consents at the Ngatoro wellsite in Inglewood. Small quantities of drilling mud, waste, sawdust and oil and leakage from dry material had been discharged onto the site.

There was no discharge into any waterways and the council had accepted a letter of explanation.

Meanwhile, NZEC announced yesterday new oil discoveries in its onshore Copper-Moki-3 and Copper-Moki-4 wells in North Taranaki.

Production from other wells in the Moki region generated cashflows of $4.5 million in the first three months of this year.

NZEC also said it had bought four onshore mining licences in Taranaki from Australia's Origin Energy.

Taranaki Daily News