21 Sep 2017

Auckland's fuel crisis - what you need to know

8:07 am on 21 September 2017

A week after a pipeline failure caused a major shortage in Auckland, the first tanker of aviation fuel is due to leave Marsden Point - and a navy ship is heading to the refinery to load up with diesel.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The pipeline from Marsden Point to Wiri, near Auckland Airport, was shut down at the weekend after 80,000 litres of jet fuel - or about two tanker loads - spilled from a damaged section at Ruakaka. The leak that caused the closure happened last Thursday.

Here's what you need to know:

Air travellers

Air New Zealand cancelled just three flights today: Melbourne to Auckland, Auckland to Houston, and Houston to Auckland. It has resumed sales of tickets for most long-haul flights, other than some trans-Tasman and Pacific Island services.

Visit Auckland Airport's website for a full list of delays and cancellations.

By yesterday, 110 flights had been cancelled - 41 of them Air New Zealand services.

Airlines are on 30 percent of the normal fuel take from the pipeline until 28 September.

A tanker was due to leave the Marsden Point oil refinery this afternoon with a cargo of jet fuel for Auckland Airport. It is the first in what will be a fleet of six to eight trucks delivering aviation fuel.

Chemical tanks at Auckland's Wynyard Wharf might be converted to temporary aviation fuel storage, but a decision hasn't yet been announced.

The government has convened a joint industry-government group to oversee the full re-instalment of jet fuel supplies into the airport.

Immigration NZ is providing advice to clients whose New Zealand visas are at risk of expiring due to cancellations or postponements. Anyone whose visa is due to expire will be given an electronic visa free of charge.


Auckland mayor Phil Goff said yesterday he had been assured Auckland City will not run out of petrol and diesel for vehicles.

By yesterday, 48 trucks a day were bringing fuel from Marsden Point and Mt Maunganui into Auckland - some using Defence Force drivers.

Navy ship HMNZS Endeavour is sailing to Marsden Point today to pick up almost five million litres of diesel.

Only seven Z Energy petrol stations in Auckland were not selling 95-octane by yesterday evening. Find out which stations are affected here.

Traffic lights were being synched to get tankers carrying fuel around the city more quickly and there will be extended hours to offload supplies at service stations.

Mobil Oil New Zealand manager Andrew McNaught, speaking on behalf of the fuel industry, said yesterday that widespread petrol and diesel shortages were unlikely.


Refining NZ said ground water being pumped from around the break appeared to be clear of hydrocarbons yesterday.

Domestic bores in the Ruakaka neighbourhood were also being tested. There has been no sign of contamination.

Pipeline repairs

The pipe will be fixed between Sunday 24 September and Tuesday 26 September, according to Refining NZ's latest estimate.

The company said its engineers had made the first of four major welds, and the first plug was due to be put in yesterday evening. The pipe has to be plugged on either side of the break and any gases removed before a new section goes in.

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