25 Sep 2017

Fuel trucks remain on the road despite pipe repair

8:07 pm on 25 September 2017

Airlines will be able to use more jet fuel from midnight tonight as Auckland's fuel supply starts to return to normal.

Pipeline repairs, at left, and an image released by Refining NZ on the pipeline damage.

Photo: Refining NZ

The airline industry said schedules had largely returned to normal with only four international flights cancelled today and it said travellers could expect few disruptions this week and into the school holidays.

Fuel industry spokesperson, Andrew McNaught, said the first million litres of jet fuel piped from the refinery should be available for airlines late tonight.

Mr McNaught said they had decided to lift the airline fuel allocation from 50 percent to 80 percent starting at midnight tonight.

He said the first million litres of jet fuel piped down from the refinery should be available for airlines late tonight.

Damage to the main fuel pipeline from the Marsden Point refinery to Auckland has now been repaired but it will remain at 80 percent capacity until at least the end of the year.

The 170km pipeline - which carries jet fuel, petrol and diesel between the refinery and airport - has been out of action since it ruptured more than a week ago.

Refining New Zealand chief executive Sjoerd Post said the broken piece of pipe will be examined by experts to establish what happened.

"Clearly there are quite a few parties who are really interested in that and we're drifting now into the realm of insurance and who is liable for what.

"The start of all that process is simply to get an objective view on what happened to that pipeline and why."

He said it was likely that jet fuel would be the priority for the restored pipe, and there could be more trucks carrying car fuel while it was operating at a reduced capacity.

It's still too early to evaluate the cost of the fuel shortage, the airline industry said.

The head of the Board of Airline Representatives, Justin Tighe-Umbers, said the impact on business was not yet known.

"Airlines are just very much focused on ensuring that they continue to get passengers to their destination with minimum disruption. As we've seen a return to normal operating conditions, I'm sure that focus will switch to starting to look into what the costs occurred have been and where to proceed from there."

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