In order to research future development of the Kapuni gas field, Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) hired BTW company to gather access agreements to private properties in advance of an extensive seismic testing programme. Seismic testing can involve the use of explosives such as TNT. A record of the participation in a seismic survey will be recorded on the property’s LIM.
Undetonated explosive are a known issue in the seismic survey industry. There were several undetonated explosives as a result of the Kapuni seismic survey. They can remain undetonated for many years; require ongoing monitoring; restrict land use; and are recorded on the property’s LIM.
Under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (CMA) the landowners do not have to give access to the land and there is a set of criteria for how access arrangements are to be obtained. These include obtaining written consent from all landowners and occupiers; ensuring that landowners obtain legal advice if they wish; and are explained the likely effects of the activities to their properties.
Taranaki Energy Watch were informed by concerned locals that BTW showed up on the doorstep telling them of proposed activity, the Crown ownership of the oil and gas, and implying the owner has little ability to stop them. They said they were not informed of the possibility of undetonated explosives.
Due to pressure from TEW, Taranaki Regional Council admitted the seismic testing with explosives was unlawful as the activity involved a discharge and the company had not been required to get resource consents. The Council then retrospectively gave the company non-notified resource consents for 1400 properties without getting the landowners permission under the RMA.
The district councils in Taranaki all take a different approach to seismic surveys even though it is the same activity in each district’s jurisdiction. This ranges from being permitted requiring no resource consent through to a fully discretionary activity. None of these councils had considered the issue of undetonated explosives and their impact on future land use.
Throughout the seismic survey in the South Taranaki and Stratford districts TEW went out and talked to affected landowners/occupiers providing them with legal information allowing them to prevent the seismic testing happening on their land if they wished.