PEPANZ Supports Pragmatic Changes Outlined in South Taranaki District Plan

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) told a Review Hearing today that it supports the proposed direction of the South Taranaki District Plan, which will see a robust and sensible framework applied to the oil and gas industry in the District.

PEPANZ Chief Executive Cameron Madgwick says while the oil and gas industry has an outstanding health and safety record, the industry also understands that there are genuine community concerns about the impact of oil and gas facilities in the community.

“That is why PEPANZ supports the changes to the District Plan, which will see all significant activities, such as drilling and new production, being, at a minimum, discretionary activities,” says Mr Madgwick.

“This means a robust approach would need to be applied by the Council, requiring it to take into account a wide range of factors before determining whether the proposed oil and gas activity was appropriate for a particular location.”

Mr Madgwick says the nature and scale of oil and gas activities is wide-ranging and each activity needs to be looked at very closely when making a decision as to whether it should proceed.

“This is the approach outlined in the draft District Plan, which is also consistent with the views of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. It is important that each project is looked at on a case-by-case basis and has an assessment based on both evidence and impact when making a decision on whether it should take place in that location.”

Mr Madgwick says PEPANZ also supports the draft District Plan making oil and gas activities a Non-Complying Activity in urban or sensitive areas, and including petroleum and production facilities as “significant hazardous facilities”.

“PEPANZ does not, however, support the inclusion of an arbitrary demarcation measure as proposed in the draft Plan," says Mr Madgwick.

“It is our view, instead, that all oil and gas activities should be considered a discretionary activity outside urban or sensitive areas, and a decision on whether it could proceed should be made following a thorough assessment looking at all the potential risks and impacts, as well as mitigation plans.”

Mr Madgwick says the oil and gas industry has played a vital role to South Taranaki economy since the first major field (Kapuni) was discovered in 1959.

“Exploration, development and production of oil and gas in South Taranaki makes a significant contribution to the local economy and directly enables or supports other major industries operating in the region such as fertiliser and methanol production and milk processing.

"That is why it is pleasing to see the draft District Plan striking an appropriate balance between supporting the ongoing operation of oil and gas industry while minimising any negative impacts on the local community.”