3 Jan 2016

Claims of unreported gas leaks at NZ wells

6:23 pm on 3 January 2016

Origin Energy says it will vigorously defend a claim by a former employee that it covered up leaks at its oil and gas fields in New Zealand and Queensland.

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A former worker claims there were unreported leaks at two wells in the Taranaki Basin. Photo: 123rf.com

Claims of gas leaks going unreported at Origin Energy's wells in the Taranaki Basin are to be investigated by the Taranaki Regional Council.

Sally McDow, a former compliance manager with the company, lodged a statement of claim and other documents with the Federal Court of Australia on December 14.

She alleged gas leaks at the RKM and Kauri C Wells in the Taranaki Basin went unreported.

The Australian newspaper said Ms McDow had handed documents to the court, saying the company failed to record or report regulation breaches.

Origin Energy said three independent organisations investigated Ms McDow's allegations, including serious compliance issues or cover-ups, and they were not substantiated.

Taranaki Energy Watch spokesperson Sarah Roberts said the allegations weren't surprising, but they were concerning.

"Many of these sites are near homes, they're near where people work and they're right in our community so it is quite a worry.

"If you think that some of them aren't being reported then maybe that's just the tip of the iceberg."

The council said it would investigate further as it got more specific information.