DRILLING has begun on the first of three wells for the $120 million Te Ahi O Maui geothermal power project near Kawerau.
Te Ahi O Maui is 100 percent New Zealand-owned via a partnership between Eastland Generation and Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust.
The project involves building a 25-megawatt geothermal power plant, and project manager Ben Gibson said following completion of this well, two further wells would be drilled later this year.
Mr Gibson said the drilling process would target known sources of geothermal fluid, which could be as hot as 200-300 degrees Celsius.
“It’s this high-temperature fluid that will ultimately fuel the geothermal power plant.”
Well pads were constructed on-site and the Old Coach Road, near Kawerau, had been upgraded in preparation for the drilling rig’s arrival back in late April, he said.
The drilling rig was commissioned this month following assembly, inspections, and karakia and blessings from local kaumatua.
Mr Gibson advised that the project’s focus for the coming months was to ensure the wells were drilled as safely and efficiently as possible.
Updates by end 2016
“We will be able to provide further updates towards the end of 2016, once the three wells are complete.”
The Te Ahi O Maui project team is working with internationally-recognised drilling specialists including the New Zealand-owned and operated rig contractor MB Century, ancillary service provider Halliburton and supervising engineers Jacobs (formerly SKM).
Tomairangi Fox, A8D trustee and project cultural advisor, said the start of drilling was a major project milestone.
“The blessing is important to ‘clear the way’ for successful drilling,” he said.
Colleen Skerrett-White, A8D owner and past-trustee, and assistant to the project team, said the project would benefit the landowners, wider community and New Zealand.
“Te Ahi O Maui will provide opportunity to develop and create local expertise and employment well into the future. We expect as many as 100 people will be involved in the construction phase and, throughout the life of the power plant, people will be required to operate and maintain it.
“These activities require businesses to support them, including engineering firms to provide the technical know-how and skills and lunch bars and cafes to feed staff. Much of this support will come from local businesses, which will mean a large part of the money spent on the plant will be spent locally. The employment opportunities for our local people, and particularly youth, are one of the important benefits of this project.”
Source: Gisborne Herald