Nicolas Vessiot

Gas Asset Strategy Manager, Powerco

Energy Engineer of the Year – Nicolas Vessiot

Nicolas Vessiot is responsible for the long-term strategic management of Powerco’s gas assets.

A core part of that responsibility is the preparation of Powerco’s Gas Asset Management Plan (AMP).

Vessiot led the team that built the AMP from scratch in 2013, spending many hours methodically sifting through data, organising workshops, modelling network performance and succinctly summarising these findings into the report.

Engineering, commercial, business and regulatory acumen were all necessary to ensure each function of the AMP was fit-for-purpose alongside Powerco’s physical assets.

Powerco says the 2015 edition built on the ‘solid foundation’ of the previous report to incorporate new tools, an enhanced risk management framework and advanced data analytics capabilities within the gas team.

The company says the risk management framework has been so successful it was adapted for use within the electricity business at Powerco. A similar data analytics programme will soon be rolled out company-wide. 

The reports have been praised for their high quality and modelled as an exemplar for the industry. Vessiot’s ability to achieve such results while working with complex evidence-based asset management processes is a ‘testament to his engineering abilities’, the company says.

Personal attributes

Powerco says Vessiot is strategic and forward looking with the ability to work across multiple engineering disciplines. He has the rare skill of being able to translate technical, complex terms into plain English.

His ‘ingenuity, perseverance and pragmatism’ have earned him respect within the company and the wider industry. He chairs a technical committee for the Gas Association of New Zealand and represents New Zealand on the joint Australia-New Zealand Gas Distribution Standards Committee.

He also recently represented the New Zealand gas Industry at the World Gas Conference, where he met with experts and heard about new technologies, commercial trends and other challenges emerging worldwide.

Vessiot returned to present to New Zealand’s industry on his findings for new uses for gas. They included options for the addition or storage of hydrogen or biogas in existing networks, use of methane in transportation, use of fuel cells to produce electricity, and smart gas metering opportunities.

Vessiot started his engineering career as a manufacturing engineer in France. He bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand in 2011 and was employed as a management consultant for business advisory firm Igniter. It was in this role that he established a working relationship with Powerco, which appointed him to the newly created role of gas asset strategy manager in 2012.

Powerco is New Zealand’s second largest electricity utility and the largest gas distribution company. Its networks cover the upper-central and lower North Island at a combined length of more than 38,000 kilometres.

The Energy Engineer of the Year award category is sponsored by IPENZ