NZ pipeline repaired, fuel to reach Auckland airport by tomorrow

SYDNEY • A damaged pipeline that resulted in a fuel shortage across New Zealand and grounded hundreds of flights was restarted yesterday after repairs were completed, officials said.

Jet fuel from the Marsden Point Oil Refinery began to arrive at Auckland's Wiri Oil Terminal yesterday morning, and is expected to reach Auckland Airport by tomorrow, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said.

"Airlines are continuing to operate their networks on the 50 per cent fuel allocation from Auckland, with increasing stability and minimal disruption to passengers," Ms Collins said in a statement. "The number of flight cancellations has been steadily decreasing."

Five international flights were cancelled last Saturday as the country's army delivered fuel in trucks to Auckland airport and New Zealanders went to the polls for a general election.

More than 100 flights were cancelled during the past several days and many more were delayed, disrupting the plans of thousands of travellers.

The New Zealand government set up a commission to oversee the response to the crisis just days before Saturday's poll, which has left the ruling National Party and opposition Labour Party in a position of having to lobby the nationalist New Zealand First party to form a coalition government.

Tourism industry officials have expressed concern about the impact on the international reputation of the South Pacific island nation, which has been experiencing record levels of tourism.

Damage to the 170km fuel line, which supplies almost all of the fuel for Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, was believed to have been caused by a digger. Repairs were completed late last Friday.

New Zealand Refining Co Ltd chief executive Sjoerd Post told media last Saturday that full capacity would probably not return until early next year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'NZ pipeline repaired, fuel to reach Auckland airport by tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe