Terrestrial Oil and Gas

Potential environmental effects arising from terrestrial oil and gas exploration and production include:

Doubtful Sound Boat (Credit: Raewyn Peart)


Oil and gas activities generate a large amount of waste. ‘Cuttings’ are unearthed during the drilling process. ‘Drilling fluids’ are used during the drilling process and can contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals and hydrocarbons. ‘Produced water’ (water trapped in the rock formation containing hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and salts) flows from the well along with oil and gas during production.

Freshwater contamination

The freshwater environment may be contaminated by spills of hazardous substances at the surface, leaks from the well, and/or blowouts (sudden and uncontrolled release of gases and liquids from a well).

Air pollution

Flaring (the burning of natural gas that cannot be processed) occurs during initial well tests and during emergencies.  


The preparation of a well site may involve the removal of indigenous biodiversity.


The proliferation of well sites in close proximity can dramatically and rapidly alter the landscape. It can result in a landscape which is significantly less aesthetically pleasing for locals and visitors alike.


All stages of oil and gas production result in noise, light (including from flaring at night), and increased traffic. These can significantly affect amenity for local residents.

Last updated at 1:41PM on February 25, 2015