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Application for oil exploration resource consent received

27 Nov 2012

Application for oil exploration resource consent received

Gisborne District Council has received a resource consent application from TAG Oil and Apache Corporation for the drilling of an exploratory well at "Punawai" on Kanakanaia Road, Te Karaka. Associated with this are applications to take water, discharge water and contaminants to ground, discharge stormwater and discharge contaminants to air.

The target drilling depth is 3150m. The well will be cased and cemented to the surface. The water required will be sourced from an adjacent farm dam. Drilling wastes, excess cement, sanitary wastes and spill cleanups (if any) will be disposed of at a consented facility outside the district. On completion, if successful, the well will be temporarily capped. If not, the site will be decommissioned and fully rehabilitated.

The proposed activities do not include hydraulic fracturing ('fracking'). A separate, additional application would be needed for that activity.

Council will now assess the application to ensure enough information has been supplied for the application to be fully assessed. A decision on whether or not to publicly notify, or limited notify the application will then be made.

If the application is publicly notified it means that anyone can make a submission in support of or opposing the application and may be heard at a statutory hearing.

Sections 95A, 95C and 95D of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and case law dictate whether an application should be publicly notified. Council must determine whether or not the environmental effects of the proposed activity are more than minor. If they are not, the application should not be notified.

Public interest in itself does not constitute special circumstances according to case law and nationally only one in 20 applications is publicly notified.

A petroleum exploration permit has been granted by the Minister of Energy and Resources. Council’s role under the RMA is to fairly manage the resource management process with a focus on managing the adverse effects of the proposed activities. Council will be using external experts to peer review technical aspects of the application, particularly in respect of well integrity.

Gisborne District Council is committed to assessing and making decisions on consent applications in an open and transparent manner. For that reason the receipt of the application has been signalled to the media and the full application and the applicant's assessment of environmental effects is available on Council’s website.