The oil & gas sector in New Zealand


New Zealand has a long history in the oil and gas industry that dates back over 150 years. Discoveries can be traced back to 1865, when early settlers noted that in New Plymouth oil was literally flowing off the beach. The Alpha well in Taranaki is considered to be the first oil well in the Commonwealth and one of the first in the world.

But it was the discoveries of Kapuni in 1959 and Maui in 1969, and the subsequent arrival of companies such as Shell, that propelled the nation into the modern petroleum era. 

When Maui was discovered it was one of the six largest gas fields in the western world. 

The onshore Kapuni field is the oldest producing gas and condensate field in New Zealand. Production began in 1969. It sparked the development of a reticulated gas network around the North Island, and built skills and other infrastructure that paved the way for future discoveries such as Maui. 

In recent years many further significant gas and oil fields have come on-stream, including Mangahewa (1998), Pohokura (2006), Tui (2007), Cheal (2008), Maari (2009), Kupe (2010) and Sidewinder (2011).

Natural gas is currently produced from 16 fields - 13 onshore and 3 off-shore - with key contributions coming from the offshore Pohokura and Maui fields, as well as Kapuni. The single biggest user of gas in New Zealand is Methanex, which uses natural gas as a feedstock to produce methanol. Natural gas is also used for electricity generation, urea production,  as a transport fuel, and for industrial and residential purposes. 

Two recent offshore fields, Tui and Maari, contribute a significant proportion of New Zealand’s oil production, along with the Pohokura field.

Present Day

New Zealand has the world's fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone with some exciting prospective geology across 18 sedimentary basins. New Zealand is recognised as one of the world's most promising regions, but remains largely under-explored. The country's 18 producing oil and gas fields in New Zealand are all currently in the Taranaki region.

New Zealand is considered an attractive destination for investment in the upstream sector:

  • Ranked #1 "Best country to do business" by Forbes Magazine in 2012
  • Ranked #1 "Least corrupt country" by Transparency International in 2016
  • Producers are not required to sell commodity to the domestic market
  • Attractive royalty and taxation rates
  • 15-year multiclient data confidentiality
  • Up to 15-year exploration permit duration  

New Zealand has a strong regulatory environment that is supportive of responsible exploration and development. Government and local industry are receptive to new players and new investment.

Oil is New Zealand's fourth largest commodity export after dairy, meat and wood, contributing more than $2.5 billion to GDP each year.

Petroleum royalties and taxation information

In the PDF documents below you will find information detailing the current petroleum royalties and income tax regime:

New Zealand Petroleum Royalties RegimeDownload
Petroleum Mining Income Tax RegimeDownload
Taxation of Non-Resident Contractors in New Zealand FlowchartDownload
Taxation of Non-Resident Contractors in New Zealand ExplanationDownload