The Natural Gas industry in New Zealand comprises four main sectors:

Exploration and Production

There are currently 15 different fields contributing to the New Zealand gas supply. National production has historically been dominated by the Maui field which, when discovered in 1969, was one of the biggest fields in the world. The Maui field, located 35km off the Taranaki coast in 110 meters of water, is southwest of New Plymouth and is operated by two platforms, Maui A and Maui B.

As the Maui field has depleted other discoveries have come on-line to fulfil New Zealand’s energy requirements. Maui, which in the year 2000 contributed 80.2% of New Zealand’s gas supply, contributed 25.8% in 2010. The Pohokura field, which began production in 2006 has filled the gap left by the Maui field and is now responsible for over 40% of New Zealand’s supply. The Kupe field came on-line in late 2009 and contributed 10.5% of New Zealand’s total production in 2010. This is expected to increase to 15% in the coming years.

The total volume of New Zealand gas production in 2010 was 173 Petajoules.

Transmission

New Zealand has a network of high pressure gas transmission pipelines stretching more than 3400 km. These pipelines transport large volumes of gas to gas-fired power stations, distribution networks, and petrochemical plants. New Zealand’s transmission networks are comprised of the Maui Pipeline, which stretches from the production station at Oaonui to Huntly, and the First Gas Transmission Network, which delivers gas to most major North Island cities.

Distribution

As well as high pressure gas transmission pipelines, New Zealand has a system of medium and low pressure Gas Distribution Networks. These networks extend north as far as Auckland and Northland, and south as far as Wellington as well as covering the Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty. These networks reticulate gas into factories, offices, restaurants, hospitals and residential houses. Distribution network owners include Powerco, Nova Energy, Vector and GasNet.

Major Users and Retail Sector

The largest consumers of gas in New Zealand are electricity generators. In 2010 48% of the gas produced in New Zealand was used in the production of electricity. Genesis Energy’s Huntly Power Station, Contact Energy’s Otahuhu B and Taranaki Combined Cycle Power Stations, and Mighty River Power’s Southdown Power Station (co-generation) are New Zealand’s largest thermal power stations.

The petrochemical sector is New Zealand’s second largest consumer of gas. Methanex’s methanol plants and Ballance’s Agri-Nutrient ammonia and urea plant together consume 15% of the total gas produced in 2010. Other large users include New Zealand Steels Mill at Glenbrook, Fonterra’s Te Rapa Milk drying plant (co-generation) and Carter Holt-Harvey’s Pulp and Paper Mill at Tokoroa.

Retail Consumers have one of the smaller shares of New Zealand gas consumption. Retailers aggregate all of the purchases from their customers in order to buy from their gas suppliers. For more details of New Zealand’s major gas retailers see the retailers page of the Gas Industry Company website.