The following is a press release from 15 April 2003 relating to the Geothermal Agreement with Mighty River Power Ltd:
The Putauaki Trust and Mighty River Power announced today that they have signed an agreement for assessment and possible development on the Kawerau Geothermal Field.
Putauaki Trust, a Maori Trust with over 500 shareholders owns and administers 1150 hectares of land in the Kawerau area with a significant portion of this land lying over the Kawerau Field geothermal resource.
Initial assessment of the capacity within the selected areas of the field will begin shortly but preliminary findings indicate there may be up to 100Mw of sustainable generation available to the project. Any construction is unlikely to start before the fourth quarter of 2004 with generation capacity on-stream in 2006.
The Trustees of the Putauaki Trust said that this was a project they had been working on for some time and that it was very pleasing to reach agreement with Mighty River Power, a well-respected and competent generation company. They believed development of a sustainable generation station using geothermal energy had real benefits for the Trust, the Eastern Bay of Plenty and New Zealand as a whole.
They made the point that the announcement is a timely one given the concerns that exist for current and future electricity supply in New Zealand. "This is a natural resource with which we are blessed and now is the right time to start using it in a responsible way", said the Putauaki Trustees.
Mighty River Power Chief Executive Doug Heffernan said he was delighted his company had been chosen by the Putauaki Trust as a partner in the field with the new agreement continuing the Company's proven track record in working with Maori interests to develop geothermal fields.
"We have been looking at possible expansion of our geothermal assets for some time and this agreement, combined with Monday's decision by Government is an opportunity to quickly improve our generation capacity".
"There are a number of steps to go through including proving commercially viable resources exist and obtaining the necessary consents to procees. The initial work will concentrate on learning more about the field and it's likely capacity".
"That process will be assisted by Monday's decision by Government to transfer its current assets in the Kawerau field to Mighty River Power. That will allow us to have a better understanding of the field's capacity and more quickly bring on stream additional generation capacity to assist in securing future electricity supply".
Mighty River Power already has interests in several geothermal power stations near Taupo as well as significant hydro generation assets on the Waikato River system. Both the Trustees of Putauaki Trust and Dr Heffernan stressed that today's geothermal knowledge, and techniques such as reinjection of geothermal fluids after removal of the heat energy, meant that modern geothermal projects could proceed with greater confidence about reservoir management.
The 100MW Kawerau Geothermal Power Station was opened in November 2008 and was a significant milestone for not only Mighty River Power but also for the Trust, the local community, and the region as a whole. Putauaki Trust are now deriving royalties from Mighty River Power as a result of reinjection wells and piping on the Trust's land connected to the Power Station.