Maui Gas

Last week, Shell celebrated the discovery of gas in New Zealand 40 years ago. In 1969, gas was discovered off the coast of Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island. At that time, it was one of the biggest gas discoveries in the world. Ten years later, it produced natural gas for the North Island and today it provides most of the gas for New Zealand. At first the gas field was owned by Shell, BP and Todd Petroleum, but in 1979, the government took a 50% share for 30 years to keep prices low. It is now 30 years since that time and last month the government gave up its share. Prices could now go up.

It is not an easy gas field to work because it is 35km off the coast in deep water, with big waves and strong winds. Although geologists thought this gas field would run out about now, they have found large pockets of gas which could last for another five to ten years.

Another Taranaki gas field, Kapuni, is on land, about 85km south of New Plymouth. It has 13 wells and began producing gas and light oil in 1969. Pohokura is a new gas field with three wells on land and six in the sea. Another new gas field, Kupe, is also in the sea off the coast of Taranaki. It will start producing gas later his year.

The South Island does not yet have any gas fields. LPG from Taranaki is shipped to the South Island in bottles. People use gas for heating, cooking and hot water. In the North Island it is also used to generate electricity.






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