The Kupe gas field may have had a long journey to production, but given its important role in supplying New Zealand’s energy needs, the wait has certainly been worthwhile.
Kupe was discovered by New Zealand Oil & Gas in 1986 but remained uneconomic to develop due to the abundant cheap gas flowing from the Maui field, New Zealand’s primary source of gas, for almost 25 years.
However, with the redetermination of the Maui gas reserves and the rapid increase in domestic gas demand to power electricity generation, the development of the Kupe field was seen as both economical and important to meeting New Zealand’s growing energy needs.
Kupe comprises an offshore platform with three production wells, a 30km pipeline running from the platform to the shore, an onshore production station near Hawera, and light crude storage and export facilities near Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.
The joint venture partners Origin Energy (operator), Genesis Energy, New Zealand Oil and Gas and Mitsui Australia came together in 2004, with the final investment decision to proceed with the project taken in June 2006.
Construction began in November 2006 and was complete in late 2009, with the project producing natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and light oil since December 2009.
During the project’s construction almost 1,000 people were employed at the production station site at South Taranaki, providing a significant economic boost to the surrounding communities. In keeping with the project’s commitment to local content, the majority of the workforce were New Zealanders, with more than six million hours worked. In addition, around 75 percent of tenders were awarded to local companies, equating to approximately $600 million of expenditure.
Today, Kupe directly employs around 35 people at the production station and tank farm, and approximately 80 people in contract roles including trucking and maintenance.
At peak production, the gas produced from the Kupe field will meet around 15 percent of New Zealand’s annual gas demand and over 50 percent of New Zealand’s LPG needs. In addition, the condensate produced is exported to refineries across Australasia and the South Pacific.
With production from Kupe forecast to continue for 15 – 20 years, the joint venture team is committed to supplying New Zealand with clean, reliable energy for the long term.