TAG Oil gets green go-ahead for Taranaki station

By Erika Venter

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

TAG Oil has received the go-ahead for a proposed Taranaki production facility station.

Commissioner Mick Lester said the facility would provide a positive effect for the community and for the nation in the provision of employment and in supply of gas and petroleum.

He also believes any potential adverse effects would be addressed by conditions imposed on the consent.

The conditions include specified noise levels to be monitored and reported to Stratford District Council; flaring (excess gas burn-off) to only occur due to an emergency situation or a shut down/start up and within a flaring chamber; and heavy traffic limited to 24 movements a day, 7am to 7pm.

In addition, TAG is to contribute towards widening and maintaining sections of Brookes Rd, and erect a 5.5m bund wall around the Cheal C site at Ngaere.

Dairy farmer Dave Dent, who spoke at the consent hearing last month and owns land adjacent to Cheal A, B and C, said the outcome was not unexpected.

He welcomed the conditions but said what was supposed to be did not always stack up with reality.

"I was told the Cheal A Production Station would be small, yet it is currently being expanded even more. I was told there would be a bit of flaring during well testing, but this has become a flare going 24/7 for many years. There must be one hell of an emergency. I was assured the site would be bunded, but it simply never happened. What you understand or imagine is often not what you get.

"All parties need to acknowledge that the effect on us is not 'less than minor'."

He welcomed the recommendation that a community liaison group be formed between the site's neighbours and TAG Oil.

"I do not want a them and us. My biggest fear is that it will divide our community. It (oil and gas) is good going for us (Central Taranaki). We have to work together and I think people would be more tolerant if they see the oil companies do more for the local community. I understand that they have had meaningful discussions with Ngaere and Stratford high schools and we appreciate that they are now walking their talk."

Mr Dent said he would welcome a platform where the local community felt comfortable voicing its opinion without being branded negative, anti-oil or green.

A landowner just outside the 1km "affected party" radius told the Stratford Press he was not anti-oil, but tired of "being fobbed off".

"I am concerned about the visual and noise pollution, but more about the legacy we might be leaving for future generations."

The production facility is not yet a done deal but TAG said it wanted to ensure it had the ability to get its product to the market should the well be as productive as hoped.

TAG COO Drew Cadenhead said the company was "going to extremes" to address flaring and other issues and its door was open to the community.


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