Pipe­line back on­line grad­u­ally

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - BROOKE BATH AND NI­COLE LAW­TON

Re­pair work on fuel pipe­line rup­ture at Ruakaka is com­plete, but pres­sure won’t be at top ca­pac­ity un­til early next year, of­fi­cials say.

The sin­gle pipe­line which serves vir­tu­ally all fuel to Auck­land, in­clud­ing avi­a­tion fuel to the air­port, has been out ac­tion since last Thurs­day.

It was ex­pected the first jet fuel would be pumped to the hold­ing tanks in Wiri by mid­day to­day, said Re­fin­ing NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Sjo­erd Post.

The pipe­line would only grad­u­ally be brought up to full speed.

‘‘We are in a start up process where we are be­ing care­ful with that in the sense that as you open the pipe you get air in the pipe­line and you need to be re­ally care­ful that air doesn’t start to play havoc with the pipe­line pres­sure, so we’re go­ing care­fully,’’ Post said.

The pipe­line will op­er­ate at 80 per cent un­til fur­ther tests were car­ried out over the next few months, Post said.

‘‘It’s a bit early to tell [when full ca­pac­ity will re­turn] but I think very early next year.’’

Dam­age to the 170km Mars­den Point to Auck­land fuel line was be­lieved to have been caused by a dig­ger at some stage in the past three years.

At the start of the fuel cri­sis, air­lines cut their fuel al­lo­ca­tion by 70 per cent, dis­rupt­ing travel plans for thou­sands.

For a time some Auck­land petrol sta­tions also ran out of 95 oc­tane fuel.

There may be short pe­ri­ods where cer­tain fuel grades may still be unavail­able but Auck­lan­ders should not be wor­ried, fuel in­dus­try spokesman An­drew McNaught said.

The in­dus­try ex­pected diesel and fuel to be sent into the pipe­line af­ter the re­stored.

The oil and chem­i­cal tanker Matuku brought 1.5 mil­lion litres of jet fuel and and 7.9 mil­lion litres of diesel to Auck­land yes­ter­day. Mean­while Army driv­ers have been de­liv­er­ing tanker af­ter tanker – car­ry­ing 32,000 litres of fuel each – from the Mars­den Point re­fin­ery to the air­port.

North­land Re­gional Coun­cil soon switch its fo­cus from cleanup to in­ves­ti­gat­ing how leak oc­curred. jet fuel sup­ply was will the the

DAN MCGRATH

The pipe­line will op­er­ate at 80 per cent un­til cleared for full use in the com­ing months.

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