The Taranaki coastline has always been a place where oil and gas existed in great profusion with the first seeps observed on Ngamotu Beach in New Plymouth in 1865.
Just under a century later, in 1955, a joint venture consisting of Shell Petroleum Mining, BP Oil Exploration and Todd Petroleum Mining was formed to explore oil and gas deposits in the Taranaki basin.
The consortium struck black gold with the discovery of the Kapuni gas and condensate field in South Taranaki in 1959. This consortium then established an operating company to develop the field on behalf of the joint venture and Shell BP Todd (known as SBPT) was born.
The Kapuni field began operation in 1969 and enabled New Zealanders to tap into valuable gas and condensate resources that previously had to be imported.
Buoyed by the success of the Kapuni discovery, further exploration led to the discovery of the Māui gas and condensate field 40 kilometres off Taranaki’s coast in 1969.
The Māui field was one of the largest in the world at the time, and following 10 years development and preparation, production began from the Māui A platform in 1979.
In 1990, BP left the exploration and production arena, selling their New Zealand interest in the Kapuni field to the Shell and Todd Petroleum Mining companies. The joint venture operating company was renamed Shell Todd Oil Services, (known as STOS) and has played a vital role as New Zealand's premier energy operator for the last 50 years.
In 1992, a second platform (unmanned) was erected in the Māui Field. Known as Māui B, in 1996 it was connected to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel called the Wakaaropai. The Wakaaropai was moored close to the platform to handle product from a separate oil reservoir discovered below the gas reservoir during the drilling of the Māui B gas wells. In 2006, the FPSO completed its task and left New Zealand shores.
STOS also provides services to the Pohokura Field located just a few kilometres offshore of North Taranaki. This field was originally discovered by Fletcher Challenge in 2000 and was acquired by joint venture partners Shell Exploration New Zealand Limited with a 48% stake, Todd Energy with a 26% stake, and Austrian-based OMV also with a 26% stake.