Mount reserves helping fuel crisis

Flights have been cancelled due to a fuel shortage affecting Auckland Airport. File photo.

Fuel terminals in Mount Maunganui are helping to supply Auckland Airport after a rupture was discovered in a crucial pipeline.

A leak was discovered in a section of the pipeline which runs between the Marsden Point refinery and the storage depot at Wiri, South Auckland, with work currently underway to repair it.

The pipeline is the chief source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport.

Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post says a 30-strong team has been working on a 24-hour basis over the last four days, and most of the jet fuel has now been recovered from the leak site.

“Much of the jet fuel had leaked into a culvert on the property. Quick action by our team, working alongside environmental staff from the Northland Regional Council, meant we were able to contain the leak and prevent it from moving into waterways.”  

Sjoerd confirms excavating around the leak revealed the extent of the damage to the pipeline.

“Inspection has shown clear signs of the pipe being dented and the protective coating removed by heavy equipment. The pipe is located in boggy terrain and it is certain that the acidic nature of the soil will have contributed to the corrosion and subsequent tear in the pipe.

“What's not clear is when this section of the pipe may have been damaged. While further analysis of the metal is to be carried out, we are concluding that this incident is a ‘one-off'.”

He says all going to plan, Refining NZ expects to deliver jet fuel into Wiri between midday Sunday September 24 and midday Tuesday September 26.

“The continued patience of our local community, as we carry out our recovery and repair operation, is very much appreciated.”

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins says there are fuel stocks on hand in Auckland and additional stocks of petrol and diesel are being trucked in directly from the refinery, and from the terminal in Mount Maunganui.

“Fuel companies are confident supply of these fuels will be maintained, and it is unlikely motorists will be inconvenienced.

“The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport, so precautions have been taken to restrict the amount of fuel being used. Airlines have options to manage their operations and will be looking to minimise any inconvenience for travelers. They will keep their customers informed of any changes to flight schedules, as required.”

Tauranga City Council chief financial officer Paul Davidson says the shutdown of the fuel pipeline is not impacting on flights in and out of Tauranga yet.

"Here in Tauranga we have fuel supply for at least this week. We have confirmation from Air New Zealand there is no impact on scheduled Tauranga flights, however Air New Zealand is constantly updating their flight schedule; people should check their website before travelling."



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