'Fracking' report to trigger political row

Parliament is this afternoon to hear whether fracking is a viable option for New Zealand's energy future.

Fracking opens up previously uneconomic oil shale for energy use and is seen by several of New Zealand's largest energy companies – both state and privately owned – as an big opportunity.

Also known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking extracts gas from shale rock by blasting it with water, sand and chemicals.

The practice has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years and was touted earlier this month by the International Energy Agency as likely to make the US energy self-sufficient for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Several unused reserves of shale oil and gas resources in New Zealand would be opened up if fracking is allowed, with large reserves in Southland and Canturbury being explored by L&M Energy. 

The company says the Southland reserves are potentially as big as any in the US. 

Todd Energy is also using the technique in its fields in Taranaki and state-owned Solid Energy has trialled it in Waikato.

Bitterly opposed

Fracking has been bitterly opposed by environmental groups, some of which have invested more than a decade's rhetoric over what they claim is the imminent demise of fossil fuels.

This afternoon Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright will table an interim report on fracking in parliament.

It is expected to endorse the process but advocate stronger safeguards.

There are legitimate concerns about waste water from fracking contaminating other water sources, and also that it might cause higher methane emissions.

Many of these concerns can be dealt with by a resource consent process under existing Resource Management Act rules and it is not clear whether the law needs amending.

The lengthy IEA report earlier this month calculated any concerns can be managed and will add about 7% to the cost of the average fracking project.

Politically, the report will trigger political drama, with both left-wing parties – Labour and the Greens – competing for air time to oppose fracking.

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Fracking has already poisoned our rivers back in 1993 in two locations - one in the North Island and one in the South Island - and the local council didn't even know until 2003. So why would anything change now?


And they are? Or are you just like the rest of the greenies and make unsubstantiated comments as "truths". Interesting that a "local council" has a river in both Islands!


It says "in two locations- one in the NI and one in the SI". Can't you read or are you just another one of those people twisting truths to their own agenda...?


I am not sure that the above report is strictly accurate - incorrect terminology is being used. Fracking is used to liberate so called 'tight oil'. It has been used successfully in Taranaki, where oil is found associated with petroleum-bearing formations of relatively low porosity and permeability (shales).
In contrast, fracking is of no use whatsover in the production of oil from oil shale. The latter term correctly refers to shale containing solid organic compounds known as kerogen – a type of immature oil. Methods of extracting oil from shale have typically involved heating up the kerogen by retorting. The Nevis deposit is the biggest such 'resource' in Southland. The economics of large-scale oil extraction from the kerogen in oil shale are not close to being met and fracking plays no role therein.
If we are to have a sensible discussion about fracking, etc, it would help if precise definitions of what the technology can and can't be used for were applied.


Two points on fracking:
1) The gasses extracted from hydraulic fracturing are FAR more cleanly burnt than the whole fossil fuels from which they are extracted (natural gas vs coal).
2) The "chemicals" that are added to the water and sand that is injected into these seams are typically far less toxic than the ground waters that exist at those depths anyway.

Anyone genuinely concerned about the environment would realise that fracking could be a good thing for NZ, providing an excellent and clean revenue stream, far superior to its coal mining cousin.

Fracking should be regulated and closely monitored, but *encouraged*. After all, someone's gotta put bread on this country's table.


Yep - we're all entitled to our say and opinion, thanks to the RMA, but it's just that - an opinion... and usually an uninformed and uneducated one at that. There's almost as many armchair environmental experts as there are armchair rugby experts.

The only credible voices are the professional engineers and scientists backed by peer-reviewed analysis and facts - without any political/greenwashing agenda's either - nothing but pure, credible facts. Everything else is just vested-interest noise.

Employ NZ Inc, drill it, mine it, sell it - then we can catch up to Aussie!


Exactly right! The only credible voices are the scientists and engineers backed by peer reviewed analysis and fact. No doubt you also apply the same critera when accepting that man made climate change is a real and present danger given that all the peer reviewed scientific data says it is?


Energy security, wealth and jobs for Kiwis. No wonder the leftards hate it :)


Again, all power to Jan Wright


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