Report industry spin - Greens

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012
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CAMERON BURNELL
Todd Energy chief executive Paul Moore
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Todd Energy says stopping fracking would hurt the oil and gas industry. What do you think?

We should stop it. The damage to the environment is worse.

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Claims that banning fracking would make the energy sector uneconomical are just industry spin, the Green Party says.

"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.

He was responding to a report release by Todd Energy last night claiming fracking was safe and essential.

The report, which is 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.

In the report Todd Energy warns that banning the controversial practice could potentially endanger the future of the lucrative sector.

 But Mr Hughes dismissed those claims.

"Fracking isn't essential for New Zealand and we have a wealth of clean energy options," he said.

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

Mr 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.

"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.

The Todd Energy report highlighted the importance of the industry to New Zealand's energy supply and coffers.

Almost 180 pages long, it is the most comprehensive industry report into fracking to be made public in New Zealand.

It is also hard hitting, slamming opposition to fracking in New Zealand as being based not on evidence but on misinformation and emotion, with many so-called "facts" often downright wrong.

The 2010 movie Gasland, which received significant public attention, has also been comprehensively discredited, the report says.

Yesterday Todd Energy chief executive Paul Moore told the Taranaki Daily News the very success of his company's petroleum operation depended on it being able to continue to frack.

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"We need to do it - but we also need to assure the public that we're doing it well. We believe the way to do this is to be totally transparent.

"That way we are confident the public can be educated that fracking is safe and environmentally sound," he said.

Mr Moore said it was not Todd Energy's intention to stir up anything by making its submission public prior to release of the results of the PCE inquiry.

"All we want to do is honestly say to everyone that we are wanting to do the right thing, that we are fully committed to New Zealand and our environment."

Pointing out that the petroleum sector annually contributes $2.2 billion to New Zealand's GDP and employs 6000 people, the Todd report claims fracking has been directly responsible for the success of almost every currently producing oil and gas field in Taranaki.

It argues the technique has been used safely and successfully in New Zealand for more than 20 years and has become the standard treatment for maximising production from the region's deep gas wells.

It is an essential technology for the development of these wells, including those currently being drilled at Todd's Mangahewa gasfield inland from Waitara.

The Todd report says the company has so far performed a total of 12 fracks in five wells, and there have been no incidents of fresh groundwater contamination.

Todd Energy is a major player in the New Zealand energy scene with interests in the Mangahewa gasfield, the McKee oilfield north-east of Waitara, the Kapuni gasfield, and the Maui, Pohokura and Maari oil and gasfields.

It plans to invest $760 million in further development of its Mangahewa field during the next few years, the work including drilling at least 20 more wells, adding millions to New Zealand's GDP and creating more than 1000 jobs.

Royalty payments from the field will be about $45 million a year for the first 10 years of production.

Natural gas provides more than 19 per cent of New Zealand's primary energy supply and 18 per cent of electricity supply. About 247,000 New Zealand households and 10,000 businesses use gas.

"The petroleum sector is a valuable contributor to the New Zealand economy and way of life," the report says.

"As production from the large Maui and Kapuni fields winds down, hydraulic fracturing has become an increasingly important tool in ensuring long-term security of natural gas supply and maintaining the benefits it provides to New Zealand."

The report can be found on the Todd Energy website

- Taranaki Daily News

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