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There were 17 fields that produced gas in New Zealand during 2011, all in the Taranaki region. Production is currently dominated by the Pohokura field, which started production in 2006, and the Maui field. Shell and Todd Energy-owned subsidiaries control the majority of New Zealand production.
The giant Maui gas field was discovered in 1969, and initially offered more gas than New Zealand needed for domestic use. In the early 1980s, the government sponsored a number of large construction projects to promote economic development in the face of sharply rising world oil prices. Some of these ‘Think Big’ projects were dependant on Maui gas, including an ammonia-urea plant, the Motunui synthetic petrol plant, and the Waitara methanol plant. In addition, other types of gas demand, particularly power generation, continued to grow throughout the 1990s and into this decade.
A series of market reforms were implemented in the gas industry in the 1990s with the gas industry moving to market-based pricing, and the government reducing its previously heavy commercial involvement in the market.
Chart 1: Gross Gas Production by Field
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Since 2001, between 40% and 60% of all gas used in New Zealand has been used in the production of electricity. The petrochemical and industrial sectors also consume a large amount of natural gas, with a small amount used by the commercial and residential sectors.
For more information, see: Section E - Natural Gas of the New Zealand Energy Data File 2012.
Chart 2: Gas Consumption by Sector
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Oil and gas reserves statistics are available on the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website.