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Refinery to Auckland pipeline outage update

Refinery to Auckland pipeline outage update

Fuel customers of Refining New Zealand said they remained confident of maintaining ground fuel supplies into Auckland, supported by initiatives enabled by government.

Refining New Zealand is continuing to work on repairing a section of the 170 kilometre long pipeline which connects the Refinery to Auckland International Airport via the Wiri Oil Services Limited terminal. The pipeline was shut down six days ago on Thursday 14 September. Refining NZ has said today that it is on track for its pipeline to be repaired and product flowing into the Wiri terminal between Sunday 24 and Tuesday 26 September.

Andrew McNaught, representing the customers of the refinery, said the industry was taking advantage of a number of offers from government to streamline supply of ground fuel into Auckland.

“As of today some companies are filing trucks to higher than usual weight limits in order to maximise the efficiency of their trucking operations and some service station deliveries are now occurring outside of typically permitted time windows – i.e. in the middle of the night.

“While doing so might be a slight inconvenience to neighbours of some sites we ask in advance for their understanding and patience.”

He said while there were positive developments, all fuel suppliers remained acutely aware of the impact of the jet fuel allocations on airlines and their customers.

“While, like the airlines, we are desperately keen for the Refining NZ pipeline to resume normal supplies of jet fuel to Auckland, we collectively want to thank the airline industry and Auckland Airport for its professionalism during a very difficult time.”

Today the industry will test for the first time a new jet fuel facility for trucks at the Whangarei truck loading facility, which could enable limited jet bridging from the refinery.

“Some fuel companies plan to utilise the offers of New Zealand Defence Force trucks and drivers from tomorrow to support the trucking effort.”

The refinery is continuing to produce fuel and the two dedicated coastal shipping vessels are continuing to load at the refinery for distribution around the country’s ports.

The coastal vessel, Matuku, has unloaded in Tauranga and is heading back to the refinery to pick up all fuel grades for delivery to Wellington, Nelson and New Plymouth.

The second vessel, Kakariki, is en route to Lyttelton, arriving early on Friday morning. It has premium petrol, regular petrol, jet, diesel, bunker fuel oil and bitumen on board. The Kakariki will then continue south to Dunedin, resupplying all grades.

An import vessel is arriving in Tauranga tomorrow. It will discharge regular petrol and diesel. It will then travel to Lyttelton, arriving on Sunday, to deliver additional regular petrol, jet and diesel. It will then travel to Bluff discharging regular petrol and diesel.

Another import vessel, is arriving in Lyttelton on Saturday, where it will discharge jet fuel. It will then go to Wellington where it will discharge regular petrol. It will then go across the harbour to Wellington Airport and fill all of the jet tanks to tank tops.

“While the shipping schedule should provide confidence around the national fuel supply position – particularly around ensuring jet fuel supplies in airports supporting Auckland - the industry’s focus remains squarely on ensuring safe and secure supplies of ground transport fuels into Auckland and on developing alternative options for safely getting additional supplies of aviation fuel to Auckland Airport.”

The industry is making a decision on whether or not it will move to temporarily convert and use existing chemical tanks at Wynyard Wharf to bridge additional jet fuel into Auckland.

“We are considering this decision very carefully as these tanks are not specifically designed for jet fuel and we need the highest level of assurance that using them for jet will not in any way impact on the quality of the product.”

Additionally, the industry has for all of this week had a dedicated resource in the CDEM Beehive bunker providing a liaison point between industry and government, as well as dedicated resources working through additional jet fuel options based at Auckland Airport.

Andrew McNaught is the Manager of Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited and is the spokesperson representing the customers of Refining NZ.


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