Tag Oil's first exploration drilling site is being cleared just 20km east of Dannevirke.
Heavy machinery was working a rural property on Ngapaeruru Rd, undestood to be the first oil and exploration drilling site in Hawke's Bay. A 24-hour security presence guarded staff and machines which had already exposed a large, bare earth platform.
While the heated debate over the two exploratory wells in the Tararua District continued to divide the district, a Dannevirke real estate agent said he welcomed what he believed would be a huge boost for the area.
"I've read we could see between 90 and 200 workers employed here, that'll mean a significant increase in demand for rental accommodation in Dannevirke. There's no way these people can come here from a distance without renting properties," Craig Boyden, principal of For Homes For Farms said. "Even when there were 20 oil industry personnel here last year during the initial survey work, they were contributing to our economy, eating at the Mangatera Hotel and staying in Galloway House and some of their vehicles were repaired at KB Ford.
"I realise oil exploration activity has to be countered by ensuring our environment doesn't deteriorate, but the Taranaki is booming and doesn't look like it's been raped and pillaged. We just need to know the facts. With Taranaki such a success story, it's not hard to work out if oil exploration is good for an area," he said.
Mr Boyden also said he doesn't agree with those who talk about falling land values because of the exploration.
"It actually seems to quite the opposite," he said.
The Ministry of Economic Development's East Coast oil and gas development study was carried out on behalf of the eight councils involved in the exploration phase.
At this stage nobody is prepared to put a figure on the likelihood of an oil or gas strike, the report says. However, survey work has pinpointed the location of prospective geological formations, with areas in Mangahei and Ngapaeruru identified as lead areas where high-grade seeps have been located.
Tag Oil has been granted resource consents to drill at two sites, one on Mangahei Rd and the other on Ngapaeruru Rd, with the consents allowing a four-week period of 24-hour drilling.
Tararua mayor, Roly Ellis said every day people are telling him, "if we don't go forward and progress, we'll go backwards."
"My worry is that agriculture is not what it used to be and oil exploration is just one alternative way of gaining economic benefits for the region. If we don't progress, we'll die," he said. "We'd be absolutely crazy not to go forward."
Ray Teahan, chairman of the community board, told the Dannevirke News he believes oil exploration will be very good for our town.
"Dannevirke is a brilliant little town, but hopefully drilling for oil will bring more prosperity," he said.
Hine Carberry, resource management appraisal officer for agency Rangitane o Tamaki Naui a Rua Incorporated earlier said it was opposed to the drilling.
"Anything that is going to place even the slightest bit of harm on our waterways, we do not support," Ms Carberry said.