Megan Woods to visit NZ's biggest gas consumer

  • 23/04/2018

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods is off to Taranaki to meet Methanex, a major gas user potentially affected by the Government's decision not to offer any new offshore exploration permits.

The Canadian-owned company converts gas to methanol and consumes about 46 percent of New Zealand's gas.

The Government's decision not offer any new offshore exploration permits in an annual tender process has raised questions about the future supply of gas but ministers have said existing permits still allow exploration.

Dr Woods told TVNZ's Q+A programme on Sunday that she was visiting Methanex in Taranaki on Monday.

She said one of the things that Methanex was heavily dependent on was the extension of an existing gas permit in Taranaki next year.

"So that will go through the normal process it would have a month ago. Nothing's changed."

TVNZ said the company needed to spend about $100 million in about five years' time to refurbish its plants and it contributed $1 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.

Dr Woods said methanol was made in New Zealand "before we used gas. It was made using bio mass".

"We also know that Iceland is making methanol using geothermal. So there are other options. And what a number of industry players are telling us is they want those long-term investment signals that they can decide."

Dr Woods said the government had consulted with the industry before it announced the decision not to offer new offshore exploration permits.