PM hails fracking as safe
We’re not going to ‘hell in a handbasket’
Prime Minister John Key yesterday waded into the fracking debate, accusing its opponents of talking a load of nonsense.
During a visit to Taranaki he said he had enough of scaremongering over the practice, particularly from the Green Party.
“From what they’re saying, you’d think that because of fracking we’ll all go to hell in a handbasket,” he said.
“But the truth of the matter is that the practice has been going safely on in Taranaki for the past 30 years without any issues.
“And last year the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment gave it a tick of approval in a preliminary report on fracking.
“I expect that nothing will change in her final report when it is issued later this year.”
Mr Key attacked the opponents of hydraulic fracturing while speaking at the official opening of a $100 million McKee power station near Tikorangi.
The station runs on gas from wells that are producing directly as a result of the process.
The 100-megawatt station sits directly above Todd Energy’s Mangahewa gasfield and is operated by Todd’s gas wholesaling and retailing subsidiary, Nova Energy.
The Mangahewa field has five producing wells, with a further four planned to be drilled this year and several more in 2014.
The success of fracking has not only prompted Todd Energy to build the power station, but it is now expanding the field’s production facilities in a project worth a total of $800m.
At yesterday’s opening, Todd Corporation deputy chairman Malcolm Whyte said the decision to build the power station – and another is planned for Taranaki – has flowed from the confidence Todd has in the gas reserves at Mangahewa, and the ability to access that gas.
“But it must be noted that without hydraulic fracture stimulation, the Mangahewa field might not have been developed, and the current expansion project certainly wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
The new McKee power station is what is known as a peaker plant that can begin generating in just 15 minutes at times of peak power demand. But it has been operating nonstop as a base load station for the past six weeks because drought conditions in the South Island have severely reduced generating capability at the hydro power stations.
Mr Key told guests at yesterday’s opening it was comforting to know the new station had the ability to operate this way.
“It goes to show how important the oil and gas sector is to New Zealand. That’s why the Government is working on ways and means of encouraging the sector to be more active.”
Mr Key said in Australia there is more capital being invested in mining operations than all other economic activities combined – and as a result 65 per cent of all Australian exports are now mining based.
“Australia is a giant mine, and it is making the country wealthy. It can make New Zealand wealthy too,” Mr Key said.
“But if we want to live like a First World country, then we need to earn like one.”
Fairfax NZ News