Examining oil bottles from the Taranaki Basin. Image: GNS Science

Examining oil bottles from the Taranaki Basin. Image: GNS Science

Currently developed energy sources for electricity and transportation fuel cannot meet the country’s future needs because of dry-year limitations on hydro-generation, and declining oil and gas reserves. Past governments have focused on the need for New Zealand to benefit from its geological endowments of energy and mineral resources (New Zealand Energy Strategy, 2011). Our role in energy research has been largely in the areas of hydrocarbons and geothermal energy. Increased geothermal energy production is also consistent with longer-term societal preferences for renewable and low green-house gas emitting energy sources. In this context, we can also contribute to research on geo-sequestration of carbon dioxide to mitigate the atmospheric effects of fossil fuel use.

The benefits that accrue from our research programme include:

  • growth in New Zealand’s economy via increased royalties, taxes, regional employment, industrial expansion, export earnings, and import substitution derived from sustainable and environmentally responsible petroleum extraction
  • improved security of energy supply (electricity and transport fuels) from the development and diversification of New Zealand’s oil and gas resources
  • bridging to a low-carbon economy and 90% renewable electricity supply through the use of natural gas instead of coal to minimise detrimental effects on the environment, particularly when used along with CO2 capture and storage.

Research Programmes:

  • Petroleum Basin Research - Discontinued June 2019. Development of baseline knowledge and innovative concepts on the structure, stratigraphy, and depositional systems of New Zealand’s sedimentary basins, to underpin and substantiate predictive models of petroleum prospectivity.
  • Petroleum Source Rocks, Fluid, and Plumbing Systems. (MBIE) – Richard Sykes, completed September 2019. Revealing the genetic relationships and plumbing connections between oil and gas accumulations and their source rock systems in New Zealand basins.
  • Atlas of Petroleum Prospectivity Kyle Bland, completed September 2018. A 4-year New Zealand Government-funded research programme (October 2014-September 2018) to create a GIS-based dataset that summarises in one place, for the first time, the current understanding of our geologically complex offshore petroleum basins. 
  • Carbon Capture and Storage