Fracking the new Pike River?



Report: Rules too loose to allow fracking
Environmental protection in New Zealand is too weak to manage the risks posed by the proliferation of oil and gas drilling, a new report has found.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has released her final report on fracking – the hydraulic fracturing of rock to release fossil fuels – saying exploratory drilling could spread quickly as the price of oil rose and more sophisticated fracking techniques were used.

While the drilling was largely still exploratory “this could change quite rapidly” and and authorities needed to ensure they were not left “scrambling to catch up” to ensure protection was adequate.

Rules and regulations were inconsistent and more direction from the Government was needed as well as greater oversight of wells and drilling waste.

What is most concerning about the report Dr Jan Wright has presented is the totally under regulated madness that is Fracking. It’s the kind of underwhelming regulation that saw so much horror at Pike River, it’s this self regulating illusion that National are more than happy to have occur on their watch in their never ending conquest to eliminate any red tape that impacts upon their big business mate profit margins.

The joke standards that vary wildly from Council to Council project a nightmarish view of big oil companies manipulating with ease their industries interests without Councils having the depth of talent to deal with them.

I thought it was bad, I didn’t know it was this bad…

For example, while the Crown received the royalties, the responsibilities for managing the environmental impacts rested with local councils who were unprepared for an expansion, and whose rules and regulations “often vary widely without justification”.

The Government needed to support those councils and provide more guidance such as through a national policy statement, as the challenges were “nationally significant”.

The public also deserved more of a say on where drilling was allowed, wells needed to be better designed to ensure they did not contaminate water supplies, and there needed to be measures to ensure old wells were monitored and that drilling companies would cover the cost of any clean-up.

The very least we expect is that if this fracking is to go ahead that it is done with the highest possible standards in place with all the risk put upon the company wanting to drill.  That the regulation has been so weak and pathetic to date should anger us all.


  1. As an anti-fracking activist in Taranaki, I totally agree with your sentiments. Rules are made largely by the oil companies and rubber-stamped by regional and district councils. By living next-door to a proposed well site one is not deemed an “affected” party and not included in any consultations. Proposed wells within 700m of a local rural primary school and 220m of the national park boundary with Mt Taranaki are causing extreme concerns. Given the blow-out exclusion zone of a well is 900m, I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions. To say no accidents have happened is misleading, details of which can be found in reports issued by councils every three months. I could go on and on and on……..Suffice to say we have a rural lifestyle being over-run by oil and gas companies who make the rules up as they go along. Landowners who signed access consents are now ruing their decisions. Having also to sign gag orders (non-disclosure) they are legally unable to speak out – which suits the companies just fine. Cheque book tactics are often employed. The only trouble with regulation is – unless we have trust, integrity and transparency, who regulates the regulators.

  2. Undoubtedly these parties will be undertaking a seismic risk analysis before any commencement – especially given NZ’s earthquake record.

    Every year GNS Science locates over 15,000 earthquakes in New Zealand. About 100 – 150 of these quakes are large enough to be felt, – the others we only know about because they are recorded by seismographs.

    Historic trends and records dating from the 1840s show that, on average, New Zealand can expect several magnitude 6 earthquakes every year, one magnitude 7 every 10 years, and a magnitude 8 every century.

  3. Hmmmmm …was there any fracking leading up to time of the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010, 2011?

    Where do I find out?

    Is there a register of where and when the fracking is, has been, or will be carried out?

    Can the OIA be used to find out when fracking has occurred in the Canterbury region?

    So many questions, so little time before the election on 20th September.

  4. On a related note, great to see a Texas couple who have been awarded 2.6 million in damages against a fracking outfit in US. This sets a legal precedent which will open the flood gates for thousands of victims suffering health and environmental effects from this insanely dangerous practice to sue for damages. ( article in Business pages in today’s NZ Herald)

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