Leighton Keith, 9/12/15 – Stuff.co.nz
A multi-million dollar seismic survey near the country’s oldest natural gas field is under way in South Taranaki.
The Kapuni 3D project would provide updated information that would help influence future decisions about the field, which was discovered in 1959 and began commercial production in 1969.
If additional resources are discovered by the survey, which is expected to be finished in the middle of 2016, it could provide an economic boost for Taranaki.
It’s understood the survey, which covers land from Manaia to Stratford, is the biggest of its kind to be done in New Zealand and is believed to cost tens of millions of dollars.
Taranaki Energy Watch has called on locals to stand up to oil and gas companies and say no to seismic surveys by refusing to grant them access to their land.
Shell Todd Oil Services general manager Rob Jager said Kapuni had been providing New Zealand with a secure supply of natural gas but now much of the “easy gas” had gone.
“This project is a great opportunity to safely discover more about the geology beneath the ground,” Jager said.
“This survey will produce an updated subsurface picture which will help inform future decisions about the field.
“If we are able to unlock safely, economically and with minor environmental impact more potential resources, it could give Taranaki an economic boost.”
The major project is the second being undertaken by Shell this summer with $70 million of maintenance work at Pohokura also being carried out.
Jager said more than a million dollars would be spent on local goods and services to support the project.
“An office has been set up in Hawera and an additional 150 people are being employed for surveying, logistics and land liaison work, along with a core STOS project team of approximately 20 people,” he said.
Geokinetics International Inc. had been awarded the contracts for seismic acquisition services and Taranaki-based BTW Company the surveying component following a tender process.
Jager said key considerations during the process were safety, local content and cost.
STOS had spent six months communicating with hapu, landowners, farmers and neighbours about the work programme, he said.
“Keeping everyone safe, protecting the environment and looking after the community are our top priorities.
“We are grateful for the community support and look forward to continuing these discussions as the project proceeds.”
In 2011 saboteurs attempted to disrupt a similar survey in coastal Taranaki by tampering with blasting holes, cutting wires to a chain of buried explosives and ripping out survey pegs.
Jager didn’t comment on the measures in place to avoid a similar situation during this project.
Taranaki Energy Watch spokeswoman Sarah Roberts said the group planned to provide land owners with information about their legal rights to refuse access to oil and gas companies.
“This is the time for people who do not want oil and gas well sites on their property or in their roads to legally close the gate on them,” Roberts said.