On 25 October 2012 Gisborne District Council received a resource consent application from Eastern Petroleum (NZ) Limited to complete a stratigraphic test well near Whangara, at Glenchoille Station about 1.3 kilometres off Christopher Road. The well is to be known as Tangamatai stratigraphic 1.
Eastern Petroleum (NZ) Limited is 100% owned by TAG Oil Ltd. In April 2009 Eastern Petroleum was granted by central government a five-year permit, Petroleum Exploration permit PEP 50940. The permit’s work programme allowed for four stratigraphic wells to be drilled to date – TAG’s Annual Report 2011 shows that eight were drilled (see page 8).
The proposed stratigraphic well will be up to 400 metres deep and is to investigate and date the rocks beneath the drill site. There will be no production of oil or gas, or fracking. However, TAG Oil has told its shareholders that the shale formations in this area are “High quality source rocks with the potential to contain a very valuable resource: Sharing many characteristics with the successful shale plays in North America, such as the Bakken.” Fracking is a regular practice in North Dakota. Find out what the locals think about fracking in the Bakken
What’s happening when
The Tangamatai stratigraphic 1. well is expected to take 2-3 weeks. Council has said a notice will be posted in the Gisborne Herald 7 days before work starts. When data has been collected the well will be abandoned, the core cemented and the site reinstated to pasture.
Then what? The application to council doesn’t say, but the work programme in permit 50940 indicates that things are running to a strict timeframe. If things continue to progress according to the permit’s timeframe, Whangara residents can expect:
- November 2012 – One stratigraphic well drilled at Glenchoille Station
- April 2013 – Eastern Petroleum commits to further exploration or surrenders permit
- 2013 – One exploration well
- 2014 – Permit prospectivity report
So by 2014 – unless there are strong objections along the way – Iwi, residents and landowners of Pouawa and Whangara will know whether they have a fossil fuel industry moving into their iconic back yard. Overseas, once an area is found to have oil or gas in sufficient quantities production and the number of wells drilled ramps up extremely quickly.
Read the full resource consent application on the Gisborne District Council website
Meanwhile near Te Karaka
TAG Oil Ltd and Apache Corporation NZ Ltd have jointly obtained resource consents for a well pad in the Kanakanaia area north east of Te Karaka. There was vocal public opposition to Council approving this consent without notification, as well as a legal opinion from the Environmnetal Defense Society stating grounds for notification under the RMA.
Council is now waiting on a further resource consent application from TAG and Apache for drilling on the well pad site. It was expected in October and is yet to be received. TAG Oil’s 2011 Annual Report shows $5 million allocated to the drilling of one exploratory well in this permit area (Permit 38348).
Nearly 2,000 people signed a petition a few months ago urging Gisborne District Council to publicly notify any oil or gas related applications.
What you can do
If you have concerns, talk to your whānau, Trustees at Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou and Te Runanga ō Turanganui-a-Kiwa, local council representatives, your MP and write to the paper – firstname.lastname@example.org