Perhaps cripples is a bit strong, but it’s certainly caused a crisis.
In a country with a relatively small population, the cost of having backup systems in place for everything is simply too expensive – until it’s needed.
And one of those systems that doesn’t have a backup is the supply of fuel to the city of Auckland. For those unfamiliar with Aotearoa New Zealand, Auckland houses a third of our population. Auckland, and the northern half of the North Island are facing a severe shortage of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel, all because a farm digger ripped through the only pipeline that supplies Auckland with these fuels. In the fifteen minutes it took to shut the pipeline down, 70,000 litres (18,500 US gallons) of fuel were spilt.
The pipeline runs some 170 Km from our only refinery at Marsden Point in Whangarei to Wiri near the Auckland International Airport. It transports the equivalent of 300 road-tanker loads of fuel per day into Auckland. And here’s the problem: The Wiri storage depot can store at best six days worth of fuel. The repair to the pipeline will take at least ten days to repair. You do the Maths.
I don’t even know if there would be 300 tankers in the entire country, but I very much doubt it. However, as many tankers as possible are being moved to Auckland to maintain a meagre flow of fuel into Auckland. Of course, that’s going to affect fuel delivery in the rest of the country. So, being less than a week out from the General Elections, the government has to look as though it is doing something to resolve the crisis, while at the same time blaming the previous Labour administration (that left office nine years ago) for causing the problem. They’ve ordered the navy to use its supply tanker to move fuel from Marsden Point to ports around the country.
I’m not sure how well they’ve thought this through. If every available road tanker is up Auckland way, how is it planned to move fuel from the ports to distribution points?
At this point in time, international travel has been the worst affected. Airlines are being allocated just 30% of their normal daily fuel supplies. 23 flights out of Auckland were cancelled today, stranding around 2000 passengers. While domestic passengers can probably find alternative transport – walking for example, international passengers aren’t so lucky. This situation is expected to continue for a few days until airlines can make arrangements to make a special fuel stop either before arriving at Auckland or shortly after leaving.
So long as there’s enough fuel to truck in supplies to the local supermarkets, the crisis is unlikely to affect me personally.
Unless it goes past the end of next week.
I’m booked on a flight to Japan…