Defence Force mobilised to help move fuel as broken pipeline grounds thousands of air travellers

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1 NEWS | NZN

The Defence Force has been mobilised to help minimise disruption from the Marsden Point pipeline being out of action.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins says she’s been told fuel will start flowing to Wiri as early as next Sunday.
Source: Breakfast

Air New Zealand says around 2000 passengers a day will be hit by flight cancellations after someone digging up a kauri log damaged the only jet fuel pipeline between Northland's Marsden Point refinery and Auckland Airport.

The damage, discovered on Thursday but revealed on Sunday, happened about eight kilometres south of the refinery and will take up to two weeks to fix.

All airlines using Auckland Airport are now restricted on how much they can refuel.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins says top officials from government agencies have held further discussions today with Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, the Supply Group, representing fuel companies, airlines and others.

Questions are being raised as to how such an incident could happen to such an important piece of infrastructure.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Collins says the latest information she has is that aviation fuel supplies in Auckland remain of most concern, but that fuel supplies are sufficient for Auckland motorists.

"Airlines have already reduced schedules and are looking at what further changes they will need to make over the next week. But for now most flights are going ahead," she said.

To free up industry resources to focus upon Auckland Airport, the Defence Force will be using the naval tanker HMNZS Endeavour to move diesel fuel from Marsden Point to other parts of the country, Ms Collins said.

The Defence Force will also be providing up to 20 additional tanker drivers to assist local operators in managing their increased workload, cancelling a major exercise with Singapore to preserve fuel and deferring non-essential training, and is also investigating options around refueling smaller commuter aircraft at Whenuapai Airforce Base, the Minister said.

Ms Collins says further work is also being done to get more tankers on the road to carry additional fuel to Auckland.

"We’re looking at what we can do to make that easier in a regulatory sense, whether that’s around hours of work drivers or weight restrictions for tankers.  Safety is always paramount, but where we can have some further flexibility then that’s what we will do."

The supply to Auckland Airport has been cut and airlines have been told to find somewhere else to fill up their planes.
Source: 1 NEWS

The Minister said any environmental impacts from the pipeline leak appear to be very limited, with the 70,000 to 80,000 litres that escaped into a farmer’s culvert now largely recovered and plans underway to treat the soil.

Auckland Airport Chief Executive Mr Littlewood says the airport is putting on additional staff to help support passengers and address concerns while the disruptions remain in place, but strongly recommends passengers check with their airline for the latest information.

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