Judith Collins says Auckland airport returning to business as usual after fuel crisis
Efforts to resupply Auckland airport's fuel are "going so well" the navy tanker HMNZS Endeavour is being put back on standby, Energy Minister Judith Collins said.
"Auckland Airport is returning to business as usual, with the expected number of cancellations today dropping," Collins said on Friday afternoon.
Ground transport using road tankers from Marsden Point to Auckland was easing the effects of Refinery NZ's severed fuel pipeline, she said.
Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said fuel trucks would start transporting jet fuel from newly converted storage tanks on the city waterfront's Wynyard Wharf to the airport on Tuesday.
Parking restrictions would be put in place around the wharf, and visitors to the popular weekend spot should keep "their eyes wide open" for increased truck transport of hazardous chemicals.
Marshals would be present during peak pedestrian times, he said.
Permission had not so far been sought to use Waterview Tunnel as a fuel transport route, Kimpton said.
Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said airport visitors should also take care.
Meanwhile, Refinery NZ anticipates the pipeline could still be repaired between Sunday and Tuesday.
Tuesday would be 12 days after Refinery NZ revealed its 170km Marsden Point, Northland to Wiri, Auckland mixed-fuel pipeline was severed.
It's believed a digger hit the buried 30cm pipe that carries Auckland Airport's only regular supply of jet fuel.
The pipe's anti-corrosion layer was scored away by the digger which over time allowed the pipe to corrode before it broke, spilling more than 70,000 litres of jet fuel.
Fuel industry representative Andrew McNaught said until the pipeline repair some Auckland petrol stations would continue for "short periods" to run out of certain fuel grades before re-stock.
Refining NZ said on Friday afternoon that good progress was being made on the pipeline repair. The welding at both ends of the new section of pipe had passed an initial inspection on Thursday and would be re-tested later on Friday after a 24-hour holding period.
The project remained on track for jet fuel delivery between midday Sunday and midday Tuesday, after which settling, recertification and transport to the airport for use would take another 30 hours.
The fuel ship Matuku has been loading a variety of fuel products at Marsden Point and would depart for Auckland at 5am on Saturday, and then on to Wellington, Nelson and New Plymouth. She will be carrying about 3.5 million litres of jet fuel, equivalent to about 120 road tankers) as well as diesel, petrol and fuel oil, Refining NZ said.