Drilling of the production well and two injection wells has been completed at the Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project, near Kawerau.
Project manager, Ben Gibson, said today that the drill rig and associated equipment have now completely demobilised from site, where they had been working since May.
The drilling process targetted known sources of geothermal fluid, which could be as hot as 200-300 degrees Celsius, he said.
“The drilling was successful – we located the high-temperature fluid that will ultimately fuel the geothermal power plant, and the injection capacity necessary to manage the cooler fluids that have passed through geothermal power plant.”
Well pads were constructed on site and the Old Coach Road, near Kawerau, was upgraded in preparation for the drilling rig’s arrival in late April. Drilling began in May following assembly, inspections, and karakia and blessings from local kaumatua.
Mr Gibson paid tribute to the internationally recognised drilling specialists who have worked on the project including rig contractor, MB Century; ancillary service provider, Halliburton; and supervising engineers, Jacobs, together with a number of smaller contractors based locally and further afield.
Mr Gibson noted that drilling was completed without any major incidents or harm to any person or the environment. “Drilling these wells to plan, without any major incidents, is testament to the professionalism, skill and experience of the entire team.”
The project focus now shifts to the construction of the power plant, transmission line and steamfield. Mr Tomairangi Fox, Cultural Adviser to the project, said “We are very happy to have completed drilling and the next stage is very exciting too.”
He reminded anyone who may have once come onto the block to hunt or get firewood that the area is now closed off. “This is for the safety and security of everyone working on the project.”
The Te Ahi O Maui project has engaged Israeli company Ormat for the next phase of the development. Ormat is a world-leader in the development and construction of state of the art and environmentally sound geothermal power solutions. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange and employing over 1,000 people worldwide, Ormat has supplied geothermal power to over 23 countries.
Matt Todd, chairman of the Te Ahi O Maui board and chief executive of Eastland Group, says he is pleased the project has partnered with Ormat for construction of the power plant. “Ormat has over 30 years’ experience in the New Zealand geothermal energy industry and is involved in 12 geothermal projects around the country. They have the necessary skills and knowledge that we can rely on for the successful delivery of the Te Ahi Ō Maui project.”
Resource consent for the project allows for the transfer of 15,000 tonnes of geothermal fluid each day from the Kawerau reservoir for 35 years, with the new plant on track to be operational in 2018.
The Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project is a New Zealand partnership between Eastland Generation and Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust.
Eastland Generation is an Eastland Group business, which owns and operates various electricity generation projects. These include the 9MW Geothermal Developments (GDL) plant in Kawerau, the 5MW Waihi hydroelectricity scheme near Wairoa and six 1MW diesel gensets.
Eastland Group’s focus is on building strong, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships from the ground up — together with the owners of the land on which the plant will operate. Te Ahi O Maui represents a very large and long-term investment ($120 million) for Eastland Group and the company hopes to return significant dividends to the Gisborne/Tairawhiti community and the A8D block owners.
The Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust is the owner of the 165 ha of land, which sits above the Kawerau geothermal reservoir.
The Trust members are excited about the potential to use the land for the benefit of their people. The A8D Trust views the Te Ahi o Maui project as an investment in sustainable generation of energy for the local and national community, a way to foster local employment and education opportunities, as well as creating a further revenue source to support its investments and growth into the future.
The project began in 2012 and was issued resource consent by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in 2015.