NZ gas shortage boosts Aust, Indo coal imports

NEW Zealand company Genesis Power is to import half a million tonnes of coal from Australia and Indonesia as an added buffer against reduced Maui gas supplies and a cold dry winter. Published on, March 28.

Staff Reporter

Genesis chief executive Murray Jackson announced the deal yesterday, saying the coal will be shipped to Tauranga and railed from there to Genesis’ 100MW dual-fueled Huntly power station.

He said the Huntly station was already using coal as fast as nearby mines could produce it and that the first delivery of overseas coal was expected in July. He told Energyreview.Net today that the preferred Australian supplier was a Queensland company.

This country’s 10-fold spike in recent spot electricity prices has been attributed partially to uncertainty over Huntly’s ability to produce at full capacity this winter, in light of reduced Maui gas and local coal supplies. Huntly, the biggest thermal station in the country, can run on either gas or coal or both.

Genesis has also released its half-yearly report to December 31, which saw its after-tax profit plunge to $NZ21 million for the six months, compared to $NZ42.7 million in the previous half. Jackson said the result was "realistic", however, considering it had bought 95,000 gas customers from NGC and 19,000 electricity customers from Energy Online during the half-year.

The other two government-owned power companies, Meridian Energy and Mighty River Power, reported bumper half-year profits for the average but wet six months.

Meridian Energy posted a profit of $NZ83 million for the latest half year, compared with a profit of $NZ30 million for the same period the previous year, and a profit of $NZ84 million for the full year to June 2002. However, Meridian said those results were severely impacted by the dry winter of 2001 and costs associated with acquisition of customers from loss-making former NGC subsidiary On energy.

Mighty River posted a $NZ99.8 million profit, which included a before-tax, one-off gain of $NZ35.4 million associated with exiting "an onerous power supply agreement" with Southdown Co-Generation. The obligation had been booked as a liability, but provision was reversed after Mighty River completed its buyout of NGC Holdings’ 50% share in the Southdown gas-fired station in Auckland.

National grid operator Transpower posted a $NZ31.7 profit for the half-year, $NZ35.6 million below the previous year, due to the one-off gain in the previous first half from a settlement with Meridian over transmission pricing.

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