Member log in

Marsden Pt refinery too vulnerable to fire and tsunami, says Air NZ

New Zealand's only oil refinery, at Marsden Pt, is too vulnerable to the risks of a major fire or destruction from a tsunami, says Air New Zealand in a submission on a government review of the country's transport fuel security arrangements.

The national carrier also suggests the country should abandon its $10 million a year membership of the International Energy Agency, which it says is an anachronism, and the money spent investing in more robust domestic fuel storage and transport infrastructure.

The submission calls for the creation of a new, standalone fuel storage facility in west Auckland to augment the existing major storage facility at Wiri, in south Auckland. It proposes the new facility be used for ground-based transport fuels, while Wiri would solely store jet fuel for use at Auckland International Airport.

The airline approached the oil companies in 2005 with the proposal, but says it now considers "the oil industry collectively will not act to develop a coherent medium-term strategy and undertake new investments that have medium-term benefits".

Commenting on risks in current infrastructure, Air NZ says the Marsden Pt refinery's various elements "interface into each other", which "makes the complex vulnerable to a fire in, say, the refinery impacting the ability to import fuels over the wharf or to operate the storage facilities, or send fuel down the RAP (refinery to Auckland) pipeline".

"Fires do happen in well-run refineries," the submission says, so ensuring the refinery can operate in the event of a fire "is a critical aspect to enhancing New Zealand's fuel supply security".

Likewise, the government's discussion document underplayed the risk to fuel security of a fire at the Wiri terminal, which the airline describes as "the most at-risk asset that has the potential to cause the biggest long-term problem".

The vulnerability of Marsden Pt to tsunami damage should also not be lightly discounted, the airline says.

The Air NZ submission takes a swipe at the inability of the four major oil companies to work together in customers' best interests, saying they had been unable to provide a single data file for the airline's monthly fuel purchases from all four. Similar examples existed in fuel storage infrastructure.

"The government needs to take a more active strategic interest in in promoting sensible economic outcomes for the supply infrastructure for petroleum fuels," it says.

In similar vein, the only New Zealand-owned fuel company of the big four, Z Energy, argues there is a "rare case for an element of government co-ordination in designing an investment framework and programme" to update the country's ageing and inadequate fuel storage and transport arrangements.

Several submissions also call for protection of the Wiri site as a site for transport fuel storage, warning of serious risks if new land uses that could compromise its role as a dangerous goods storage site were permitted.

The submission from the oil company-owned Wiri operation, Wiri Oil Services, says planning is under say to build new storage tanks on the same site but at a distance from existing storage.

As a result, one part of the facility could keep operating if a fire or disruption in the other part threatened security of fuel supplies.


Comments and questions

Let me guess, the public pays for all of this...

Public pays for everything, then privatisation takes place, then the public pays for it again... Plutocracy at work since 1913.

Why should oil companies fund Air New Zealand's business continuity infrastructure?

What this submission screams loudest is Air New Zealand's own management have failed for years to invest in their own business continuity.

That is a ridiculous remark. Air NZ is the consumer, not the provider. The onus is on the oil companies to ensure their storage faciliies are secure to ensure uninterrupted supply to the end-user.

Why is there an onus on the oil companies to ensure uninterrupted supply?

To say the supplier has to guarantee supply is silly.

That's like saying it is the supermarket's responsibility to ensure every household in New Zealand has an Civil Defence emergency kit (or that you don't need a kit, because the supermarkets will stay open in an emergency).

If you really value a product which is needed by yourself, shouldn't you make arrangements yourself, not jump up and down on the spot?

You and Harv feel the same way towards the power-generating companies and those responsible for the transmission lines, then?

Exactly, now you've got the idea. That's why businesses which value power install generators or backup battery banks.

Let's say there is some merit in this. Why west Auckland? Why not somewhere along the pipeline where the land is ridiculously cheap?

Yea, have it along the RAP so in the event of an emergency at the refining company the reserve can be delivered through the pipeline.

So IF the oil refinery is vunerable to tsunami then what about the rest of the Marsden Point to Ruakaka real estate? Must affect the insurance risk on these properties, too!

Who gives a rat ar*e if Air NZ runs out of jet fuel? Just order some from Singapore and ship it down.

If WW3 breaks out Air NZ will ground their planes anyway until the govt commandeers them agin with jet fuel from Singapore.

Really, spend another day on the sunbed, Rob, and relax.

Go jump in the lake, Air NZ. Why would you expect someone else to take care of your own problem?

No wonder China Southern Airline and other airlines have managed to attract large number of customers from NZ. Stop the blame game and get down to business. Invest into your future and stop expecting someone else to do it for you.

Fuel companies' failure to invest in maintaining infrastructure makes for a "rare case for an element of government co-ordination in designing an investment framework and programme"? Ha, effing, ha.

Tragic thing is Stephen Joyce and Mon-Key Boy will be lapping it up and the NZ taxpayer will end up paying a fortune again for another failure of private business interests.

Well, leave for another suburb, then. Maybe the bowels of south Auckland will be to your liking.

Yet again, Air NZ demonstrates how useless its management really is.

Delta Air Lines recently bought an oil refinery so it could manage its largest expense.

What does Air NZ spend its money on? Painting planes black, taking safety out of safety videos, getting rid of inflight products and calling it a 777-300, verbal racist puppets, 3 ugly uniforms in 6 years, crockery that won't fit in galley ovens, pink tie dinners ... the list of non-accountable buffoonery goes on. Quick, blame someone else, Rob, and collect your next bonus.

Meanwhile, Emirates, Cathay, China Southern do what Air NZ won't ... and Hawaiian is on the verge of being the new Pride of the Pacific.

It pains me to see so many Air NZ-haters vent their spleen here.
Mind you, Air NZ's Hobbit in-flight safety vid is so cheesy and syrupy, that it makes squirting an aerosol can of mock cream straight down the gullet seem like a culinary treat.

That can of mock cream will cost you an extra $3 because it wasn't included in your fare.

I hope everyone who has commented here has backup plans for their fuel needs when the tsunami or fire happens. It is not just Air NZ that are at risk, but all of us. I can imagine you all crying in your cups when you can't get fuel to drive to your jobs, or even to the supermarket.

New Zealand needs to do some serious strategic planning in many areas or we are going to be left behind and gradually become a desolate backwater!