20 Sep 2017

Fuel crisis: NZDF deployed to deliver fuel

4:53 pm on 20 September 2017

The New Zealand Defence Force will begin transporting fuel around the country by sea and road tomorrow.

Royal New Zealand Navy tanker HMNZS Endeavour will sail for Marsden Point on Thursday morning to upload up to 4.8 million litres of diesel fuel for delivery to ports around the country.

Royal New Zealand Navy tanker HMNZS Endeavour will sail for Marsden Point on Thursday morning to upload up to 4.8 million litres of diesel fuel for delivery to ports around the country. Photo: NZDF

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said the Royal New Zealand Navy tanker HMNZS Endeavour would sail for Marsden Point refinery on Thursday morning to upload up to 4.8 million litres of diesel fuel for delivery to ports around the country.

"Endeavour can provide the equivalent of 150 road tankers of fuel. Deploying the ship will free up commercial tankers to reconfigure and focus on moving aviation fuel.

"This will help ease distribution issues in other regional centres," Major General Gall said.

Twelve New Zealand army drivers will be driving civilian tankers to transport aviation fuel to Auckland, Palmerston North and Napier around the clock from Thursday to 30 September. Six drivers will be driving tankers from Marsden Point to Auckland, while another six will move fuel from Wellington to Palmerston North and Napier.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has lifted restrictions on long-haul ticket sales apart from some trans-Tasman and Pacific Island services.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins and officials briefed media this afternoon on Auckland's jet fuel shortage, which has disrupted dozens of flights.

Mobil NZ's Andrew McNaught, who was acting as a spokesperson for the fuel industry confirmed the fuel rationing would continue for airlines until next Thursday, which he said was a significant challenge for airlines and their customers.

"We anticipate that we will be continiuing to operate at a 30 percent allocation until next Thursday the 28th of September, though we will be reviewing this allocation on a daily basis."

Air New Zealand limited long-haul ticket sales yesterday due to the shortage, which was triggered by the closure of a pipeline supplying fuel to Auckland Airport.

The line was shut over the weekend after a leak was discovered on Thursday.

It has caused dozens of flights in and out of the city to be delayed or cancelled.

The closure has also affected petrol and diesel supplies, but the city's mayor says he's been assured vehicle fuel will not run out.

Air New Zealand said today it had lifted restrictions on long-haul sales apart from some trans-Tasman and Pacific Island services.

The only flight cancellation tomorrow was an Auckland to Houston service, bringing the total number of cancelled flights since Sunday to 41.

It said the situation was stabilising and disruptions would ease.

Check out Air New Zealand's travel alert page for up-to-date information.

Government and industry group formed

The government said it and the wider airport industry have formed a group to oversee the full return of jet fuel to Auckland Airport.

The group includes: ExxonMobil, Z Energy, BP, Air New Zealand, KiwiRail, Auckland Council, Auckland Airport, Auckland Transport, NZ Defence Force, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and the Ministry of Transport.

The government said the HMNZS Endeavour would be deployed to Marsden Point tomorrow at 11am to help with fuel transports.

Repair work proceeding well - Refining New Zealand

Refining New Zealand, meanwhile, said it was now ready to start filling tanker trucks with jet fuel to be transported to Auckland.

Northland Regional Council staff taking bore water for testing after the pipeline break at Ruakaka.

Northland Regional Council staff take bore water for testing after the pipeline break at Ruakaka Photo: Supplied

It has built a temporary truck-loading station at the Marsden Point refinery, while repairs to the broken pipeline continue.

It said repair-crews were making good progress.

The pipe has to be plugged on either side of the break and any gases removed before a new section is installed.

The refinery said its engineering team has made the first of four major welds, and the first plug should go in this evening.

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