Fuel pipeline disruption continues

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 26, 2017

While the ruptured fuel pipeline from Marsden Point to Wiri continues to cause widespread delays and cancellations to flights in and out of Auckland Airport, there have been no major issues with diesel and petrol supply.

Fuel companies prioritised deliveries of 91 petrol and diesel, which did result in some stations running out of high octane petrol, and they have indicated there may be intermittent shortages until the pipeline is repaired.

The National Road Carriers Association is asking drivers to be mindful of their fuel requirements and where they fill up. They advise drivers to fill up when they can, and if operating linehaul out of Auckland, to fill up where possible either south of the Bombays or Whangarei to take pressure off the Auckland supply.

A Mobil spokesperson says the most significant impact is at Auckland International Airport, as the pipeline is its only source of supply. Petrol and diesel at the Wiri fuel terminal is also on allocation to customers, but there are more supply points, including trucking petrol and diesel into Auckland via the refinery at Whangarei and fuel terminal facilities at Mount Maunganui, which will mitigate issues with supply caused by the temporary pipeline closure.

There is no issue with fuel stock, and – significantly – the refinery is still operating. This means that fuel is still being produced and shipped around all New Zealand ports as per usual. In addition, import cargoes of refined fuel continue to enter New Zealand and supplement supplies as usual. The industry has flexibility in how manages these shipments to ensure there is fuel where it‘s needed – e.g. at Mount Maunganui – to ensure strong supplies into Auckland and into other domestic airports.

“There‘s plenty of fuel to bring into the city and it‘s continuously coming but as we truck fuel into the city, rather than use the pipeline, there may be sporadic and short-term stock outs at retail sites from time to time. If any retail customers were inconvenienced, we are confident this would be minimal and short-lived.”

Caltex general manager commercial Nicolas Williams says while they were waiting for precise confirmation on exactly how long the fault would take to fix, it is currently predicted to be up to 10 to 14 days – longer than the industry‘s available supply of fuel without the pipeline running.

“National fuel stocks in New Zealand are healthy and the refinery is still operating, meaning fuel is still being manufactured and shipped to ports around New Zealand. Fuel import vessels are also scheduled for further deliveries as per usual. The industry is now doing everything it can to move fuel by ship and truck around the country to ensure continuity of petrol and diesel stocks in and around Auckland, including through Whangarei and Mount Maunganui.

“We will post updates on this issue, including the refinery‘s expected repair times, on a daily basis to the following website www.caltex.co.nz/RAPoutage.”

Williams said Caltex wanted to reiterate their commitment to managing the issue as effectively as possible and with as little disruption to customers as possible.

National Road Carriers Association say they will keep members updated on any further developments.