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Oil Production

The first oil well in New Zealand was drilled in 1866 at Moturoa, although oil production did not start until 1969, when the Kapuni field started producing. Oil is still produced exclusively in the Taranaki basin, although there is the prospect of future production in other basins around New Zealand. Remaining reserves (P50) as at 1 January 2012 were 149 million barrels of oil (mmbbls) for producing fields. Oil production is currently dominated by the Maari, Pohokura and Tui fields.

As local oil production does not meet domestic demand New Zealand imports a significant quantity of crude oil and refined petroleum products. New Zealand became increasingly more self-sufficient in oil from 1974 to 1993, going from producing less than 4% of demand to producing about half. Self-sufficiency peaked in 1997 at 55%, but then decreased since due to continued oil demand growth and declining production. Recently, increased production has raised New Zealand’s self-sufficiency.

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals manages the New Zealand Government’s oil, gas, mineral and coal resources, known as the Crown Mineral Estate.  More information can be found at


Chart 1: Annual Crude Oil, Condensate, and Naphtha Production by Field1

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1 Excludes LPG


Refined Oil Products

New Zealand has one major oil refinery, at Marsden Point, which opened in 1964 and expanded in the late 1980s. The refinery supplies around 70% of New Zealand’s petrol and diesel demand, which is supplemented by imports of refined petroleum products. Most domestically-produced crude oil is exported as it is "lighter" and "sweeter" than needed by the Marsden Point refinery.

In 1988, the government removed price controls on petrol and took further steps to deregulate the industry. The government has never had ownership interests in petrol distribution and retailing, unlike its interests in the electricity and gas sectors.

The petroleum products industry in New Zealand consists of five companies: BP, Chevron (marketing as Caltex), Mobil (an affiliate of ExxonMobil), Z-Energy (formerly Shell) and Gull. BP, Caltex, Mobil and Z-Energy dominate the market and supply a full range of products. Gull has a smaller market share and has limited its participation to petrol and diesel sales. Gull was the first oil company to offer biofuels in New Zealand; a blend of premium petrol (90%) and bio-ethanol (10%) is available at many of its retail outlets. Mobil has now also entered the bio-fuel market in New Zealand. It now offers regular and premium petrol blended with bio-ethanol, and a 5% bio-diesel blend at a few of its retail outlets.



Consumption of petrol is dominated by household transport, although diesel vehicles are becoming an increasingly popular choice. Diesel is used heavily by the commercial transport sector, and in off-road applications such as primary industry and construction. 


Chart 2. Annual Observed Oil Consumption by Fuel Type

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Oil Reserves

Oil and gas reserves statistics are available on the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website.


Last updated 20 March 2014