Auckland Fuel Crisis Day 9: Rationing eased ahead of schedule

Air NZ's schedule back to normal. 

Airline fuel rationing has been eased and a ban on non-essential travel for public servants was lifted overnight as progress has been made repairing the pipeline from Marsden Point to Wiri which burst last week.

Energy Minister Judith Collins says progress on fixing the pipe and alternative supply options mean fuel allocations moved from 30% to 50% overnight. Airlines had previously expected to keep using only 30% of what they usually would until Thursday next week.

Air New Zealand says it is operating its regular schedule with no fuel-related cancellations, while Z Energy at 8.30am had no shortages of 95 Premium fuel.

Overnight the HMNZ Endeavour arrived in Marsden Point and 20 NZ Defence Personnel will drive trucks to transport between 500,000 and 700,000 litres of fuel to the airport over 24 hours.

Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post said little would be gained from knowing who damaged the pipe but says it was an illegal activity because whoever was digging around the pipe should have sought consent.

“I’m not sure what we would gain in terms of finding out who the individual would be. I kind of get the sense that it would be a small contracting firm or individuals.

“The public wants to know but in this day and age of trolls and all those other things, if we knew it was Jo Bloggs or whoever, then are we going to protest in front of his house? What are we going to do with that information?”

Mr Post says the company was disappointed in its own naivety, “because we put signs up [around the pipe] and thought that was enough.” Ms Collins has already indicated a full review will take place once fuel supply is restored. 

The industry continues to work toward repurposing a former chemical tank at Wynyard Wharf to hold jet fuel. The Matuku is scheduled to arrive into Ports of Auckland on Saturday to discharge jet fuel and diesel into the Wynyard Wharf terminal.

Meanwhile, through a reconfiguration of tanks and pipelines, an additional 300,000 litres of jet fuel storage at Christchurch Airport has come on stream this morning, to support airlines that are required to refuel in Christchurch.

Representing the major fuel companies, Mobil manager Andrew McNaught says while the 30% allocations would increase over time as the pipe is repaired, it could go backward if the timeline slipped.