Tauranga ‘critical’ to fuel crisis

The Port of Tauranga is being described as ‘absolutely critical’ to alleviating the pressure on fuel stocks in Auckland. File photo.

The Port of Tauranga is playing a vital role in alleviating pressure on fuel stocks in Auckland as a result of a major pipeline rupture.

The port is one of the key points from which fuel is being delivered and trucked up to Auckland, where four Z stations temporarily ran out of 95 octane today.

Z corporate communications manager Jonathan Hill says it’s unlikely this Auckland shortage will affect stations in the Western Bay of Plenty.

“In fact, Tauranga is absolutely critical to the management of the fuel shortage, in that the Port of Tauranga is providing the bulk of fuel for supply of Auckland.”

He says more deliveries are going into Mount Maunganui than previously, with fuel supplies at the port very strong, and continually being topped up by the coastal shipping network.

The issue with the airport is it has a single point of supply via the ruptured pipeline, whereas fuel for ground transport such as cars and trucks can be supplied by tankers out of Mount Maunganui and Whangarei.

Jonathan says they have reserves at the Mount that go up and down quite quickly.

“But the Marsden Point refinery is still producing, and continually filling up two vessels that deliver 40,000 tonnes of fuel at a time around the ports of New Zealand.

“The Port of Tauranga is integral to the fuel terminal network in New Zealand, as not only does the coastal shipping network deliver fuel into it, it is also supplemented by direct imports of finished fuel from other parts of the world.”

Fuel can’t be shipped to the Port of Auckland, says Jonathan, because that port has no fuel storage facilities. The ruptured pipeline is connected directly to a depot in Wiri, South Auckland – essentially an ‘inland port’.

As for the temporary shortage of 95 octane, Jonathan says there around 400 service stations in Auckland across all brands.

“We have four temporarily out of 95 octane. But we have that product being trucked into Auckland from Mount Maunganui at the moment.”

Initial uncertainty at how long the shortage would last meant topping up supplies of 95 octane was not prioritised by Z.

“In the early days of this outage we made the decision to deliver more 91 and diesel to Auckland, as these are used by more vehicles.”

Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post says they expect to deliver jet fuel needed by Auckland Airport into Wiri between midday Sunday September 24 and midday Tuesday September 26, as repairs to the ruptured pipeline continue.


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