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Oil protesters won't give in easily
By CLAIRE HAMLIN
CANADIAN EXPERTISE SOUGHT
A regional council staff member leaves for Canada this
week, to check out how authorities there monitor drilling
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's compliance and pollution
response manager Bryce Lawrence will have meetings
about oil exploration with the staff of regulatory
authorities who have dealt with it.
The trip was instigated by HBRC after preliminary
discussions with Canadian regulators, seen as the centre
of excellence in a regulatory sense when it comes to oil
TAG Oil and Canada's Apache Corporation were planning
to lodge consents to undertake drilling work in three sites
along the East Coast, including in Hawke's Bay, after
being granted permits by central Government.
Mr Lawrence's trip will see him spending time obtaining
firsthand knowledge of oil exploration processes and
visiting a site that is at a similar stage to the East Coast
work, as well as a mature oil field that is fully operational.
Meetings are also planned with environmentalists and
representatives from Canada's indigenous community.
HBRC chief executive Andrew Newman said it is
imperative the organisation had as much information on
processing consents for oil exploration as possible before
it started working on any consents.
''This is a new area for us and we want to find out as much
as we can about it so we can make decisions that are fully
informed, if and when the consents are lodged,'' he said.
''Given the vast experience Canadian authorities have
dealing with oil exploration permits it makes sense to visit
''From the outset HBRC has seen it as vital to ensure
there is a fully transparent process in relation to oil
exploration in Hawke's Bay and encouraged Apache to
communicate regularly with the public.''
A staff member from the Gisborne District Council will also
make the trip to Canada, at the oil company's expense.
The HBRC representative's $14,500 trip will be partially
funded by Apache Corporation ($3000), with the rest
covered by the council.
Central Hawke's Bay Council will not send a
representative, as they had researched Tag and Apache's
exploration work in Taranaki.
Setting off: Marchers leave Clive Square to walk through the inner city to the HB
Regional Council building.
Rally of Hope
While not chaining themselves to
tractors and diggers yet, protesters
against oil extraction in Hawke's Bay
will not rule it out as they continue to
fight international companies wanting
to drill here.
There are a core group who are
committed to ongoing pressure,'' said
Elsthorpe farmer Greg Hart, who
organised last week's protest rally
against the American and Canadian
Tag Oil and Apache Corporation
wanted to have testing underway
about 10 kilometres inland from
Porangahau, Central Hawke's Bay, in
Last Wednesday's Rally of Hope''
was intended to send a strong mess-
age to the Hawke's Bay Regional
Council that the group was against
About 300 people marched through
Napier's inner city to council
chambers, where a presentation to
councillors was given by Alex Fer-
guson, a representative the drilling
Mr Ferguson said the process of
exploratory drilling was still in phase
one, the very early stages, and the
three-phase process would be
governed by strict guidelines.
Phase one would run until the end
of this year when the company would
decide, depending on results, whether
to enter phase two which would
involve a horizontal well that would
mimic what was seen in a production
Mr Ferguson estimated a one in
five chance there is a resource that
will take us into phase two''.
If oil was found there was a 50-50''
likelihood that fracking -- hydraulic
fracturing using water and chemicals
-- would be required.
The crowd inside the meeting
listened intently to the presentation
and questions put to Mr Ferguson by
This is so important, there is so
much at stake,'' Mr Hart said.
We are really at a crossroads and
the decisions we make today are going
to affect life on Earth
for many years to come.
We all know that, basi-
cally, fracking is insane
-- the Earth is our only
home and must be
treated with respect,
not pumped full of
chemicals. Therefore it
is time to rally to send
a strong message to
councils and govern-
ment that drilling for
oil and fracking is not
going to create a better
future for our children.''
to Mr Ferguson that he
hold a public meeting,
where the public could
Mr Ferguson said he felt public
meetings often saw people leaving as
unhappy as they came''.
We are working on a long-term
engagement process, rather than one
public meeting,'' he said.
Applications for resource consent to
drill exploration wells would probably
be lodged in the next two months.
Permits to mine were administered
by central Government, however the
regional council would be in charge of
resource consents for things like well-
drilling and the disposal of waste.
No decision could be made on
whether those consents would be noti-
fied until they were lodged.
That decision would depend on the
nature of the com-
If they can dem-
onstrate that they
are using the world's
practices then the
application is less
likely to be notified,''
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