Oil & Gas Study Discussion – Letter to HB Today

Sir

The East Coast Oil & Gas Development Study should not been seen as an endorsement of this industry starting on the East Coast.  As it is untended to stimulate discussion which is all well and good.  I would like to make a start to that discussion.

The study recognises that for the industry to be economically viable on the East Coast unconventional extraction methods (fracking) need to be used.  It also quotes the PCE in saying that fracking can be effectively managed provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation. What the study omits to say was that the PCE also stated that “in many instances it has been difficult to determine where regulating responsibilities begin and end and how effectively they are being managed”.  In other words we do not have operational best practices in New Zealand at present.

The study states “East Coast communities will want to make choices about the extent and pace of development and how a range of issues will be managed” Tag Oil is applying for resource consents to drill right now, not after we the community have had the opportunity to develop strategies on how to manage this industry. To me, Tag’s application puts the cart before the horse and demonstrates that as a multinational they have no interest in gaining a social licence to operate.

Both HBRC and Horizons regional plans have little or no detail on how to deal with this industry, and it appears obvious to me that both these plans need to be updated before oil and gas exploration commences. I am aware that this could be a long and onerous process but we only get one shot at this and if it is rushed then the likelihood of catastrophic failure is far greater, as has been demonstrated offshore time and time again. Therefore I would call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the East Coast until these issues have been resolved by our respective communities, something the report stated we would want to do.

Submitted 10 Mar 2013

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