New Zealand walking away from gas

EnergyQuest CEO Graeme Bethune is also the International Gas Union’s Regional Coordinator for North Asia (China, Japan and Korea) and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand). In this role he contributed a short report on the current state of play in New Zealand to the June 2021 issue of the IGU’s Global Voice of Gas magazine (which incidentally also features articles on gas industry methane emissions).

Of the five countries in the North Asia-Australasia region, New Zealand is the most bullish in pursuing its transition to net zero carbon emissions. The Government has legislated a target date of 2050 for this, but the transition is already causing issues for natural gas and the wider energy sector. The article can be accessed below.

Subsequent to completion of the article in late May, the New Zealand Climate Change Commission has recommended to the government a gradual shift away from natural gas, which it refers to as fossil gas. It says that a transition away from fossil gas is important for achieving New Zealand’s 2050 zero emission target. However, the report notes the speed with which New Zealand reduces natural gas for generating electricity needs to be carefully managed. It also said removing gas from the system too quickly could have knock-on effects for the electrification of transport and low-to-medium temperature process heat, which it said were two big opportunities for reducing emissions. The difficulty of managing the decline of a major energy industry in New Zealand is already becoming apparent. New Zealand’s decision to stop issuing new frontier exploration licences has led to the holders of all existing licences quitting their permits and the gas industry has had to launch an advertising campaign to reassure customers that “the gas you turn on is not being turned off”.