Reticulated natural gas is piped the 6,000 k of pipelines to more than 50 cities and towns in the North Island where it is largely a fuel of choice.
It is chosen for the benefits it offers. Gas provides economical space heating, is an instant fuel for chefs and cooks and can provide continuous hot water in homes, institutions and factories.
Reticulated natural gas is used by around 260,000 homes in the North Island for cooking, space and water heating.
Hotels, motels, restaurants, retail outlets, office buildings, small manufacturing enterprises, schools, hospitals and similar community facilities use natural gas for a range of purposes such as water, space heating and cooking. In the rural sector, farms and horticultural businesses use natural gas for heating, and atmosphere control such as in glass houses.
Natural gas is used in a range of industrial processes with the three largest user groups being the steel, forestry and dairy sectors. All three export a large proportion of their output. The chemical and plastics industries also use hydrocarbon liquids produced with natural gas to manufacture plastics, synthetic fibres, rubber, medicines, fertilisers, paints, detergents and insecticides.
Gas is also increasingly being used by industrial customers for cogeneration applications. This is a process where a primary energy source is used to produce two forms of energy (electricity and heat) at the same time. The main cogenerators are in the dairy, steel, forestry and energy sectors.
The petrochemicals sector used around 20 percent of New Zealand’s natural gas during the year ended September2005 for methanol production at Methanex’s Motanui and Waitara plants, and for ammonia/urea production at the Ballance Agri-Nutrients plant at Kapuni compared with 31 percent in the previous year.
Crude methanol is produced from natural gas, and then distilled into high grade methanol. Methanex New Zealand produced 600,000 tonnes of methanol during the year ended September 2005 compared with one million tonnes of methanol during the year ended September 2004.
The reduction of methanol production was mainly due to the closure of Motunui plant as a consequence of natural gas supply constraints.
In the year ended September 2005, 49% of New Zealand’s gas was used for electricity generation (35%), including co-generation (14%). Contact Energy Ltd (Otahuhu B and Taranaki Combined Cycle and New Plymouth) and Genesis Power Ltd (Huntly) are the main thermal electricity generators in New Zealand.
Gas consumption for electricity increased 39% to 53PJ while gas consumption for cogeneration decreased by 6.8% to 21PJ compared with the year ended September 2005.
Source: Ministry of Economic Development Energy Data File January 2006