Almost a week after the pipeline between Marsden Point refinery and petrol company-owned Wiri storage depot failed, Refining NZ says it has reached a watershed moment in its repairs.
In its latest update, the company says, “The positive news is that the engineering team is getting on with the repair of the pipe, having completed the first of four major welds on the pipe. We will be ready to install the first in-line plug this evening. Once this has been done we will start welding the second plug.”
Refining NZ confirms it has started an investigation into what caused the rupture, and has brought in two Worley Parsons staff from Canada to the site.
The pipeline failed last Thursday, disrupting fuel supply to the country's biggest city and forcing airlines to ration flights in an effort to conserve fuel.
Mobil NZ manager Andrew McNaught, representing the customers of Refining NZ says “the pressure on airlines and their customers does not go away and the 30% allocation is a significant challenge. Again, while we cannot control what has happened on the pipeline, we very much appreciate the way our airline customers and Auckland International Airport are managing this issue.”
The airline is restricting ticket sales and says it will reduce cargo loads by not accepting ad hoc shipments unless it's urgent medical equipment and excluding any consignments heavier than pre-existing bookings.
Yesterday, public servants were told not to fly unless travel was essential.
Meanwhile, the head of the National Road Carriers Association, David Aitken, says his organisation is keeping a close eye on fuel stocks but does not want to create panic at this stage.
Mr Aitken says, “what we are saying [to members] is be aware of your fuel situation and make sure you keep topped up. If you are running line-haul, then fill up south of the Bombays or in Whangarei.”
He adds, “we definitely don’t want to send panic – we are not at the stage – we are keeping a close watch on it.”
Tranzliquid Logistics director Greg Pert, whose company operates more than 20 fuel tankers, says Energy Minister Judith Collins' measures to loosen road rules for truck drivers were welcomed but would only go so far.
“The industry is stepping up and putting in every resource – we are doing everything humanly possible to keep the fuel lines up. What Judith is trying to do is a good initiative.
“There is more demand and we are maximising our efficiencies in scheduling. Once you set up a programme, everyone understands what you are trying to do," Mr Pert says.
Mr Aitken says, “Using freight and fast lanes to cut through traffic that is a good idea because you will up productivity. But there are still only so many truckers.”