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Maritime Union Says Government Investigation Into Fuel Security And Refinery A Good Idea

The Maritime Union says it welcomes the new investigation into the feasibility of reopening the Marsden Point Refinery, announced by Associate Energy Minister Shane Jones.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the Union supports the decarbonization of the transport sector, but until this is a reality there is a need to ensure resilience and fuel security.

Mr Harrison says the Union had opposed the closure of the Marsden Point refinery, as this had undermined resilience and fuel security for New Zealand.

He says another issue was the loss of two New Zealand flagged and crewed oil tankers, as petrol companies had shifted to direct import to New Zealand ports from overseas refineries.

Mr Harrison says New Zealand based tankers should be maintained to distribute supplies around New Zealand ports, with the ability to act as mobile storage facilities.

He says New Zealand has limited fuel reserves, and is now dependent on overseas shipping.

“During COVID there was severe disruption of shipping, and if there was a major conflict or natural disaster that cut links with overseas refineries, New Zealand would be helpless.”

Mr Harrison says New Zealand tankers could obtain overseas fuel supplies in the event of global supply chain disruptions, and could assist in the event of a natural disaster within New Zealand.

He says the problem of contaminated or ‘off spec’ fuel supplies had resulted in several incidents of aviation fuel shortages at New Zealand airports in the last two years.

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This still had the potential to cause serious disruption as replacement fuel supplies from Asian refineries could take some time to be delivered.

Mr Harrison says New Zealand’s fuel security should not be at the mercy of the commercial interests of overseas owned fuel companies, which was behind the refinery closure.

“There are current conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, and tensions in the Asia Pacific region, together with the ongoing threat of extreme weather due to climate change and seismic events. New Zealand needs to ensure its resilience and fuel security.”

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