Official raps fracking critics after sponsored trip
Last updated 19:04 25/03/2012
A local body official hosted in Canada by oil exploration officials
has accused the anti-fracking movement of spreading misinformation.
Apache Corp – which along with fellow Canadian company TAG Oil – is
behind a proposed development which aims to generate 14 billion barrels
of oil on the East Coast of the North Island. Last month it co-funded a
fact-finding trip for officials from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council
and Gisborne District Council, a 10-day tour aiming to educate officials
The procedure – also known as hydraulic fracturing – involves
pumping water and chemicals under high pressure underground to fracture
rocks and force out gas and oil resources. Opponents claim it increases
seismic instability and threatens water sources with chemical pollution.
It is being banned in a growing numbers of countries and states.
But Hawke's Bay Regional Council manager of compliance and harbours
Bryce Lawrence has written in his post-trip report: "There is
significant energy supply geopolitics, and climate change politics
occurring worldwide which is creating anti-hydraulic fracturing messages
that are not very accurate or even based on issues relating hydraulic
Lawrence was accompanied by GDC environmental services manager,
Trevor Freeman. A representative from Horizons Regional Council was also
set to make the trip but pulled out unexpectedly.
Much of the pair's travelling costs were paid for by Apache, with
their 10-day itinerary including hearing the fracking views of oil
companies, landowners, industry regulators and selected indigenous tribe
The trip was arranged after council officials said they needed more
knowledge before granting consent for proposed fracking on the North
Island's East Coast.
Lawrence wrote: "The Canadian authorities' advice is not to get too
distracted by hydraulic fracturing as there [are] more likely avenues
for environmental pollution from related surface activities, than from
"The Canadian authorities are aware of the examples used by
hydraulic fracturing opponents and have provided their understanding of
the issues based on facts as viewed by the three regulators visited.
Initially enquiries to verify the regulators' views confirm that
hydraulic fracturing opponents do not represent the facts of the issues
presented to provide a balanced view."
They were comments which were last night slammed by Green Party MP
Gareth Hughes. He had initially welcomed the trip as a potential way for local body officials to upskill on the fracking debate.
But he said: "I think the results are very much a one-sided view of
fracking in Canada, which isn't surprising given that Apache funded the
"The report marginalises legitimate and everyday Kiwi concern into fracking.
"This isn't a bunch of extremists or hardened activists. This is everyday Kiwis and farmers."
Hughes said the Canadian province of Quebec had joined an increasing
number of states and countries to have introduced a fracking
There have also been oil industry workers killed in Canada while working on the controversial procedure.
The Star-Times revealed the size of the TAG Oil and Apache
joint-venture in January. Documents from TAG Oil officials said there
was potential to build "thousands" of onshore wells on the East Coast
and pump "billions of barrels of oil". TAG has written that the area was
"literally leaking oil and gas" and the joint venture was prepared to
undertake an "aggressive East Coast Basin programme".
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