Pohokura's environmental journey

Pohokura is New Zealand's largest gas resource and commenced production in 2006.

Shell Exploration NZ (SENZL) the operator of Pohokura, strives each and every day for Goal Zero - no harm to people and protect the environment.  It says its 'licence to operate' in New Zealand depends on meeting that standard, ensuring an ongoing focus and systematic commitment to environmental best practice.

That policy was reflected in the design of the Pohokura field which consists of five offshore wells, three onshore wells, tied together by an onshore production station.

Pohokura, located 20 minutes north of New Plymouth at Motunui, is New Zealand's only remotely operated plant, run from a state-of-the-art control room in New Plymouth, minimising emissions and enhancing safety.

The field was also the first in New Zealand to use horizontal directional drilling to preserve the coastal environment. The pipeline from the offshore wells to the onshore production station passes under local cliffs to avoid the need to excavate the foreshore, protecting customary fishing grounds and local wildlife.

Design benefits

Design features of the production station ensure minimal risk to the environment and long-term energy and resource efficiency, the company says.

Most of the site's pumps and compressors operate with variable-speed drives, saving energy. Processing areas are built on concrete bunds, which are visually checked for trace contaminants before surface water is released through the plant's valved stormwater system.

After treatment in ponds, the country's sole wetland bio-filter of native flaxes and reeds removes any residual hydrocarbons.

Ongoing development of the area around the production station has seen WISE - the Waitara Initiative Supporting Employment - undertake extensive riparian planting. Old macrocarpa trees are now being removed to allow planting of a native woodland area, with the resulting firewood being donated to the elderly.

Meaningful community and hapu engagement occurs regularly and Shell is a committed partner in a range of long-term sustainable development programmes such as Puke Ariki's 60 Springs which sow the seeds of creative thinking at an early age. The award-winning programme inspires school students to investigate their local environment and develop creative solutions towards a sustainable Taranaki.

Shell's environmental management systems have been accredited to ISO14001 standards.

In 2010, Shell Pohokura received a sustainable development and technical innovation award from the Taranaki Regional Council.

In 2011 the Environmental Excellence Award category was sponsored by PEPANZ.