Jamie Gray

Jamie Gray is a business reporter for the NZ Herald and APNZ

Genesis no 'ugly duckling'

CEO says detractors do not understand the scale of the power firm being readied for float.

One of the two chimneys at Genesis Energy's Huntly Power station. The state owned company is about to be listed on the NZX - the last of the Govt's partial privatisation programme. Photo / NZPA
One of the two chimneys at Genesis Energy's Huntly Power station. The state owned company is about to be listed on the NZX - the last of the Govt's partial privatisation programme. Photo / NZPA

Genesis Energy chief executive Albert Brantley, speaking at the launch of the Genesis Energy offer, complained about the company being labelled the "ugly duckling" of the state's three power generators.

His issue was that Genesis Energy's detractors did not fully understand the scale of the company's diversification.

There is a lot to Genesis, relative to others in the state's power generating stable.

It has the biggest power station in the country in the form of Huntly, 31 per cent of the lucrative Kupe oil and gas field, the country's largest retail customer base, and significant hydro generating assets in the South Island and in the central North Island.

Brantley said that too few people understood the relevance of its interest in the Kupe field and the strength of Genesis Energy's customer base.

He said unlike its joint venture partner in Kupe - NZ Oil and Gas - Genesis Energy does not have to plough proceeds back into oil and gas exploration.

Rewards from Kupe flow straight back to Genesis, and the field contributed $109.2 million to its operating earnings in 2013.

Genesis receives a 31 per cent share of all Kupe's oil, natural gas and LPG production. The gas component helps Genesis "turbo charge" its dividend, brokers Forsyth Barr said in a research note, allowing the company to offer a dividend yield of between 13.5 per cent and 16.5 per cent.

"The yield is impressive and cannot be ignored, albeit we believe growing the dividend will be a challenge for Genesis," Forsyth Barr said.

"While the initial dividend is attractive, Genesis Energy's challenge is to grow earnings sufficiently such that it will offset the natural decline in Kupe earnings as the gas field ages."

Brantley conceded Kupe was a limited resource, but that it would still be around for many years to come.

Albert Brantley
Albert Brantley

Despite its substantial oil and gas assets, and its large base of customers, when people think Genesis they think Huntly, with its ageing coal and gas-fired Rankine units that dominate the skyline of the Waikato town. There's more to the station - which is capable of providing 20 per cent of the country's electricity needs - than meets the eye. From the road, the Huntly power station looks much the same as it did when it was opened in the 1980s by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Muldoon.

It has four 250 megawatt Rankine units - so named after the process that is used to drive most of the world's thermal power stations. One has been decommissioned and another unit is in the process of being mothballed.

The station's two chimneys and cooling units tower over the nearby Waikato River. If Huntly looks quiet from the roadside, chances are lake levels are high, there's plenty of power and wholesale prices are low.

But if vapour is pouring out of the chimneys, and Huntly's funnel-shaped cooling towers are working hard, chances are the country's lake levels are low or there has been an outage somewhere in the grid.

Under those circumstances, wholesale power prices will be high, providing Genesis with the commercial incentive to fire up its units to meet demand.

Behind the bank of Rankine units is Huntly's pocket rocket - Unit 5. The efficient, combined cycle gas turbine can pump out 403 megawatts - almost enough to cater for Auckland's residential power needs. Unlike the nearby Rankine units, Unit 5 continually contributes to the country's capacity.

Forsyth Barr says regardless of Genesis Energy's strengths and weaknesses, the company faces the same issues as the other generator-retailers - subdued demand.

Genesis Energy assets

*Huntly power station is the biggest in New Zealand.
*31% of the lucrative Kupe oil and gas field.
*Country's largest retail customer base.
*Significant hydro generating resources.

Read the full Genesis Energy share offer statement here


Genesis Energy

2012 Revenue: $2.270 billion
2012 Net Profit: $90 million
Government expects to raise between $700 million and $1.1 billion from selling a 49% stake.

Operates a mix of thermal and renewable power stations
with a total capacity of 2141MW:

• Huntly thermal power station - gas/coal.
• Tongariro power scheme, Taupo - hydro.
• Waikaremoana power scheme, Wairoa - hydro.
•Tekapo A &B, Mackenzie Country - hydro.
• Hau Nui, Wairarapa - wind.
• Holds a 31 per cent stake in the Kupe (off the Taranaki Coast) - oil and gas.

Chairman: Jenny Shipley
Chief Executive: Albert Brantley

- APNZ

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