Drilling approval for TAG’s East Coast oil and gas search
Canadian oil and gas producer TAG Oil has gained resource consents to drill two exploratory wells in the first search for oil and gas on the East Coast of the North Island.
The company, which has extensive onshore production wells and processing facilities in Taranaki, already faces some public opposition to the East Coast plans, based largely on fears the company will use hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", to access reserves.
The consent approvals, for drilling near Dannevirke, follow release a fortnight ago of a government-funded study into East Coast onshore oil and gas potential.
The report was inconclusive, saying major oil and gas finds were possible and could transform the region's economy, but that there were significant geological differences between the areas identified by TAG and such prolific shale reservoirs as the Bakken field in the US.
TAG has likened the East Coast region to the Bakken field.
Chief executive Garth Johnson says the two consented wells will be "conventional vertical wells that will not be fracked" and the company would be "striving to leave the smallest possible environmental footprint in any oil and exploration work it undertakes on the East Coast".
Work would start immediately to meet permit conditions set down by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.