Christchurch fuel supply 'vulnerable'

BP New Zealand and Z Energy say the earthquakes have highlighted the vulnerability of Christchurch's fuel supply chain, and authorities need to take urgent action to improve its resilience.

Addressing the Christchurch City Council's earthquake forum today, BP national terminal manager Warren Bolger said the situation was causing ''significant investment uncertainty'' among fuel companies.

Before the quakes, most fuel coming into Christchurch arrived through the Port of Lyttelton and was then taken by tanker across Evans Pass or piped through Mobil's pipeline, which runs from Lyttelton to Woolston.

But the Mobil pipeline, which was damaged in the quakes and was temporarily unusable, can now take only certain grades of fuel.

Evans Pass is still closed and requires at least $30 million of work to take it back up to pre-quake standards.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has allowed the companies to take fuel through the Lyttelton tunnel at night, under strict conditions, but has signalled that arrangement will end when Evans Pass reopens.

Bolger told councillors that fuel companies would be reluctant to use Evans Pass once it was reopened because it was difficult to navigate and an undesirable route for the transportation of dangerous goods.

''There is no appetite for putting trucks across that sort of road,'' he said.

Trucks could not use Dyers Pass because it was too steep, and Gebbies Pass was also problematic because it had no shoulder and lots of tight bends.

Bolger said the fuel companies' clear preference was to continue being able to use the road tunnel.

If they could get agreement from the authorities for that, they would be willing to contribute towards the cost of any necessary upgrade work, he said.

The Press