9 Aug 2011

Fracking linked to earthquakes

9:57 pm on 9 August 2011

Opponents of fracking, a oil and gas drilling technique, say it may increase the risk of earthquakes.

Using horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected at extreme pressure to crack open rock, boosting petroleum flow.

The Climate Justice Taranaki lobby group says it's potentially lethal to frack near fault lines.

Fracking was halted in north west England in June after two small earthquakes in the Blackpool area. They were magnitude 1.5 and 2.3.

At least one company fracks alongside faultlines in Taranaki.

But the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association says drilling cannot trigger earthquakes.

The Straterra lobby group says there is a concern to address, but says any seismic acitvity or shockwaves associated with fracking are a far cry from the massive forces unleashed by events such as the Christchurch earthquakes.

There are bans on fracking in various places overseas - in the Karoo region of South Africa and France.

New Jersey and New York states have moratoria on fracking to protect water supplies, along with the city of Pittsburgh and Quebec in Canada.

New South Wales has a moratorium till the end of the year and an Australian federal Senate inquiry is underway.

Environmentalists in New Zealand want a moratorium at least until the US Environmental Protection Agency finishes investigating fracking next year.