Oil shale is a fine-grained mudstone, which tends to have a plate-like structure. It is a source rock for hydrocarbons, and oil can be extracted from it. In New Zealand, oil shales occur in places such as the Nevis and Waitati valleys in Otago, and at Orepuki on Southland’s south coast. Between 1899 and 1903, oil was extracted from the Orepuki oil shale. Around 6,350 tonnes of oil shale were processed, yielding around 179 litres of oil per tonne. The operation ceased as mining was costly, the shale deposit was quite small, and a duty on imported oil products was removed.
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Reference: Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1901, C–3A
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