Te Ahi O Maui drilling is underway

Te Ahi O Maui drilling is underway

Drilling is underway on the first of three wells for the Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power project near Kawerau. Following completion of this well, two further wells will be drilled later this year.

Project Manager, Ben Gibson, says the drilling process will target known sources of geothermal fluid, which could be as hot as 200-300 degrees Celsius.

“It’s this high-temperature fluid that will ultimately fuel the 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. The drilling rig was commissioned in May following assembly, inspections, and karakia and blessings from local kaumatua.

The Te Ahi O Maui project team is working with internationally recognised drilling specialists including the New Zealand owned and operated rig contractor, MB Century; ancillary service provider, Halliburton; and supervising engineers, Jacobs (formerly SKM).

Te Ahi O Maui is 100 percent New Zealand owned via a partnership between Eastland Generation and Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust. Tomairangi Fox, A8D trustee and project cultural advisor, says the start of drilling is a major project milestone. “The blessing is important to ‘clear the way’ for successful drilling.”

Colleen Skerrett-White, A8D owner and past-trustee, and assistant to the project team, said the project would benefit the landowners, wider community and New Zealand.

“Te Ahi O Maui will provide opportunity to develop and create local expertise and employment well into the future. We expect as many as 100 people will be involved in the construction phase and, throughout the life of the power plant, people will be required to operate and maintain it.

” These activities require businesses to support them, including engineering firms to provide the technical know-how and skills and lunch bars and cafes to feed staff. Much of this support will come from local businesses, which will mean a large part of the money spent on the plant will be spent locally.

“The employment opportunities for our local people, and particularly youth, are one of the important benefits of this project,” says Ms Skerrett-White.

Mr Gibson advised that the project’s focus for the coming months is ensuring the wells are drilled as safely and efficiently as possible. “We will be able to provide further updates towards the end of 2016, once the three wells are complete.”

Eastland Group’s board of directors visited the Te Ahi O Maui drilling site last month. From left: Keiran Devine, Mike Glover, John Rae, Nelson Cull (chair), John Clarke, Tony Gray.

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The Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project is a partnership between Eastland Generation and Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust. Eastland Generation is an Eastland Group business, and Gisborne-based Eastland Group is wholly owned by the Eastland Community Trust, a community trust similar to the Eastern Bay Energy Trust.

The Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power plant will generate approximately 25 megawatts of electricity from a site 2.3 kilometres north-east of the Kawerau township – enough new power for 25,000 homes.

Te Ahi O Maui project is part of Eastland Group’s strategy to develop a portfolio of renewable electricity generation and minimise the environmental impacts of its projects.

Eastland Generation already owns and operates a geothermal plant on the Kawerau field; the GDL plant generates 9 megawatts of clean and renewable, baseload electricity.