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Natural gas is sourced from the Taranaki region of New Zealand, from onshore and offshore wells (which also produce oil). Several hundred exploration and production wells have been drilled since 1950. The reticulated network in the North Island provides gas to end-users, from large to small users.
Further information on gas exploration is available on the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website.
New Zealand’s oldest field, Kapuni, went into production in 1969 and is still producing today.
Some fields do not produce any net gas. For example, gas is either flared, lost or used on-site at the Maari field which lies 80 kilometres from the coast. Total production is dominated by the Pohokura and Maui fields.
There are several processing stations in the Taranaki region which process raw gas (including extracting LPG in some cases) before injection into the high-pressure transmission network.
Transmission and Distribution
New Zealand has two main transmission entities: Vector’s transmission network and the Maui pipeline (owned by Maui Development Limited).
The high-pressure gas transmission pipe network runs through the North Island, from Whangarei down to Wellington. Gas is transmitted both directly to large industrial consumers, and to local distribution (intermediate-, medium- and low-pressure) pipe networks, largely via the Vector network. Maui Development transmits gas directly from to Oaonui Production Station to Huntly Power Station. This pipeline began transmitting gas in 1979. All gas from Maui, Pohokura, McKee, Mangahewa and Kowhai is delivered into the Maui pipeline.
LPG (available in bottled form nationwide, or reticulated in the South Island) data are categorised within the Oil Section.
Gas consumption comes from the following main sectors:
- Electricity generation (including cogeneration).
- The industrial sector (such as dairy).
- As a feedstock (i.e. non-energy use) in the petrochemical sector.
- The residential sector.
- The commercial sector (including transport).
CNG is supplied to the automotive market through some North Island service stations. The CNG market has decreased markedly since government subsidies were removed in 1987.
The depleted Ahuroa field is New Zealand’s first large-scale gas storage facility and can improve the flexibility of the gas supply. It is owned by Contact Energy which uses it to support its gas-fired electricity generation plants at the Stratford site and the Taranaki Combined-Cycle plant. It can also inject gas into the Vector transmission system, and can store gas during warmer months to be used to meet higher demand in colder months.
The government first released a ‘Government Policy Statement’ on gas governance in 2003. This was revised and updated in October 2004 while amendments were made to the Gas Act 1992 to provide for a co-regulatory model of gas governance. The amendment set up an industry body, the Gas Industry Company (GIC), which makes recommendations to the Minister on improved gas industry arrangements such as rules and regulations for wholesaling, processing, transmission and retailing. The GIC levies industry participants to fund its operations.
Oil, gas and LPG reserves statistics are available in the Energy in New Zealand tables.