What is fracking? The process of drilling down and creating tiny explosions to shatter and crack hard shale rocks to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
Why is it controversial?
Much of the water used in fracking is collected from the well and processed, but there are concerns that potentially carcinogenic chemicals can sometimes escape and find their way into drinking water sources. Some American householders also claim that shale gas leaking into their drinking supply causes tap water to ignite.
Every day in the New Zealand media there are stories about fracking. But have you noticed how little real informed debate there is? How little solid information? We looked at each other and said - someone has to make a documentary about this: a comprehensive, scientifically sound look at fracking in New Zealand - a film that answers all the questions. So here we are: FRACKING WHATATUTU, economic boom or environmental bust?
With just five streets and 300 residents, Whatatutu is an East Coast town you can miss in a blink. It's a tight-knit community surrounded by forestry and traditional family farms -- and reserves so vast the area is "literally leaking oil and gas", according to Canadian mining company Tag Oil.
Armed with exploration licenses issued by the NZ government, Tag Oil and its partner Apache intend to extract oil and gas from the earth around Whatatutu using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".
Mining advocates claim the practice is safe; others insist it leaves a toxic legacy.
Feature film documentary Fracking Whatatutu will cross-examine environmentalists and oil companies alike. Centering on Whatatutu, the film will delve into fracking throughout New Zealand. It will cut through the spin as it drills for the truth about land ownership and mineral rights, water use and waste disposal, economic benefits and environmental impacts.