Winston’s policy demands

Now it is negotiation time to see who can form the next government it’s worth looking at some of Winston Peters’ demands.

  • Move Port of Auckland to Marsden Point
  • Move Parliament to Waitangi
    (no sitting times after the Russell Ferry stops running)
  • Rebuild Eden Park in Whangarei
  • Relocate Ellerslie race course to Dargaville
  • International airport at Kerikeri
  • America’s Cup to be staged at Bay of islands

However it is not clear whether Peters will put the same priority on these policies after losing the Northland electorate.

Obviously only the first of those is actually NZ First policy, but it is about as practical as the rest.

Fuel pipeline repaired

The fuel pipeline between Marsden Point and Auckland that severely disrupted travel at Auckland Airport has been repaired.

RNZ:  Broken fuel pipeline replaced

The broken piece of pipeline that carries fuel from Marsden Point to Auckland, and which prompted dozens of flights to be grounded, has been replaced.

Since the 170-kilometre pipe was found ruptured 9 days ago and shut off, airlines have had to ration their fuel supply.

Refining New Zealand said the new piece of pipe passed a welding inspection last night, and they were now preparing to start putting fuel through it.

The agency said plans remain on track to deliver jet fuel into Wiri between tomorrow and Tuesday.

The flight plans of thousands of air passengers have been disrupted after the sole pipeline carrying jet fuel, petrol and diesel to the city from Refining New Zealand’s Marsden Point ruptured last week.

Flights are now returning to normal and the fuel restrictions on airlines have been loosened.

The tanker Matuku has been loaded with jet fuel and diesel and is due to leave the refinery at 5am on Saturday morning, bound for Auckland.

So things should be back to normal soon, hopefully with valuable lessons learned by swamp kauri diggers and by those who need to have contingency plans.

Fuel pipeline and Plan B

Should we have a ‘Plan B’ for everything? Some have said we should have had a backup to a bust fuel pipeline.

This has caused major disruption at Auckland Airport in particular.

Stuff:  Possibility of prosecution after leak closes crucial jet fuel pipeline

The Northland Regional Council said it was investigating the circumstances that led up to a fuel pipe line from a Northland refinery being temporarily shut down.

The 168-kilometre pipeline – which carries jet fuel, petrol and diesel directly from the oil refinery at Marsden Point in Northland to tanks in Wiri, south Auckland – has been out of action since Thursday afternoon, when refinery workers noticed a drop in pressure.  A jet fuel leak was located on a rural property 8km south of the refinery later that afternoon.

Refining New Zealand spokesman Greg McNeill said on Monday initial investigations showed a digger “scraped” and “cut” the pipe.

Prime Minister Bill English said that a contingency for this type of incident had been previously been looked into but wasn’t economically viable.

“There have been a couple of studies done that looked at different alternatives for backing up the current infrastructure, and the decisions were made that the investment that would be required to double up would be too much to be passed onto consumers.

“But I expect that after this that they’ll go back and have another look at it.”

Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said some 27 domestic and international flights were cancelled over the weekend, while others travelled via other airports to refuel.

McNeill said they believed it would be fixed between September 24-26.

“Getting the product down to Wiri where it is stored is the key to us, we’re working toward a definite timeline,” he said.

Once the jet fuel is back at Wiri it will undergo about 30 hours of processing before it is certified and taken on to the airport.

It happened during an election campaign so it is more political than usual: Government knew of jet fuel supply concerns: Labour party

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says the Government has known for years there were serious risks to the supply of fuel to Auckland International Airport.

In a statement this morning, Ardern says Air New Zealand raised the issue about additional jet fuel supply storage in 2012 but the Government instead set up a raft of “mishmash of minor initiatives”.

It goes back further than that – the Clark led Government also considered pipeline options in 2005.

But the fuel supply and pipeline are privately owned.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett was grilled by Guyon Espiner on Morning Report over a cabinet paper from 2012 in which officials advised then Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges of the serious impact of a shutdown.

“It’s not owned by the Government, it’s owned by the fuel companies and it is their job to get their product to the source where it’s needed.

“I’m sure that we will now look at that and make sure we’ve got it all lined up properly …there’s other alternatives to a second line, and there might be things like extra storage needed in Auckland that goes beyond the eight days.”

Stuff Editorial: Burst pipe shows importance of having a plan B

There is a sense of deja vu in all this. New Zealand has seen before how failures in small but critical parts of its infrastructure can lead to disproportionate disruption.

In 1998, central Auckland suffered a five-week power cut after four electricity cables failed. The outage started with one old and obsolete cable, which triggered another, and then two more.

In 2011, a landslide caused a leak in the Maui gas pipeline north from Taranaki. It was fixed within six days, but the failure is estimated to have cost the economy $200 million.

The interdependence of some of the country’s networks was demonstrated in 2012, when a power cut in a Wellington control centre crippled the entire Auckland railway network.

We haven’t even begun to consider massive disruption caused by large earthquakes, the continued closure of the Manawatu Gorge, or damage caused by weather events – such as the failure of stopbanks protecting Edgecumbe – which are likely to become more frequent.

For all the talk about how infrastructure development fuels national growth, sometimes not enough care is taken to protect the assets that we have, even when the risks are known. Lip service is given to building resilience, but the truth is this is expensive.

Yes, expensive.

The vulnerability of the 30-year-old Marsden Point to Auckland pipeline was highlighted in a report by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in 2012. It seems nothing was done about it.

I don’t know if nothing was done, but a new pipeline wasn’t installed, a tanker ship wasn’t put on permanent standby, the storage tank capacity at Wiri wasn’t doubled, the 170km of pipeline wasn’t continuously patrolled.

Winston Peters didn’t even suggest moving Auckland Airport to Whangarei.

How important, or feasible, is it to have back up plans for everything?

They could have a second pipeline from Marsden Point to Wiri – that would have to follow an entirely different route to be safe.

Auckland could have stand by motorways in cash a crash disrupts traffic.

They could re-introduce rail ferries from Wellington to Lyttleton in case there’s another Kaikoura earthquake – but what if the next earthquake is in Wellington?

We could all have two cars and two houses and two jobs, just in case.

The Government could make us have a plan B for everything.

Or we could have infrastructure that makes economic and practical sense, and risk the occasional bit of disruption.

Marsden-Auckland fuel pipeline

A fuel pipeline between Marsden Point and Auckland has been broken, causing havoc at Auckland Airport. The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel from the airport. I have no idea why they can’t truck fuel to the airport.

I first heard about this today but the break happened on Thursday – NZH: Couple evacuated after aviation gas leak on Refining NZ pipeline

A Northland couple has been evacuated from their home following the discovery of a leak of jet fuel on a section of the Refinery Auckland pipeline near Ruakaka.

Refining NZ spokesman Greg McNeill said a pressure drop on the Refinery to Auckland multi-product pipeline was detected at 2.30pm on Thursday.

The leak was discovered about 8km south of the refinery at Marsden Point near Ruakaka.

“We’ve isolated and contained the leak and our crew is busy carrying out a recovery and repair operation,” Mr Mc Neill said.

A team of firefighters normally based at Refining NZ had gone to the scene and remained on a cordon.

“We’re working with the oil companies to ensure that fuel supplies aren’t unduly impacted,” he said.

Crews were at the scene today but were still trying to discover what had caused the pipe to leak and how much gas had been leaked.

The refinery was continuing to operate while repairs were being carried out and it was not expected the incident would have a significant financial impact on the company.

Northern Advocate on Saturday: Cause of jet fuel leak not known yet

Mr McNeill said it was the first leak he had heard of on the section from Marsden Pt to Wellsford and leaks were not common at all.

Yesterday crews were at the scene off Marsden Pt Rd and were hoping to start digging to expose the leak. Until they could pinpoint the leak they were unable to say what had caused it, Mr McNeill said. It was unclear just how much fuel had leaked.

“We won’t know exactly what we are dealing with until we expose the pipe and see the damage.”

NZH today: Auckland Airport fuel crisis: 23 flights cancelled, more likely

All travel out of Auckland Airport looks likely to be disrupted for several days after a digger lifting swamp kauri on a farm at Ruakaka, south of Whangarei, sliced through the airport’s sole supply of jet fuel from the Marsden Point refinery.

Airport spokesman Simon Lambourne said 23 flights have been cancelled in the past 24 hours.

NZ Refining spokesman Greg McNeill said the pipeline was likely to be shut down for several days, with two engineers flying in from Canada tomorrow.

Petrol and diesel can be trucked into Auckland by tanker, but the airport depends entirely on the pipeline and is now running out of stored supplies of aviation fuel.

McNeill confirmed that the pipeline was cut by “external damage” but was unable to confirm that a digger was trying to lift a kauri log.

Refining NZ spokesman Greg McNeill said the issue began on Thursday when a leak was spotted in the pipeline that supplies aviation fuel from Marsden Point to Wiri, South Auckland, near the airport.

The 170km pipeline is constantly monitored and on Thursday a drop in pressure was noticed.

A helicopter was put up to survey the pipeline and the leak was identified on farmland at Ruakaka, about 8km from the Marsden Point refinery.

From Judith Collins, Minister of Energy and Resources: Temporary disruption to Marsden Point pipeline

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins has spoken to Refining NZ and the heads of fuel companies affected by the disruption to the Marsden Point pipeline to Auckland and offered Government support if it is required.

A leak was discovered in a section of the pipeline which runs between the refinery and the storage depot at Wiri, and work is underway to repair it.

“I have spoken to Sjoerd Post, chief executive of Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, as well as Mobil, BP and Z Energy, which all use the pipeline to supply fuel to Auckland.

“Refining NZ is doing all it can to repair the pipeline and industry is working to minimise any inconvenience to customers and the public.

“Refining NZ has all the expert technical assistance resources it needs, including international expertise. I have also offered them, and the companies supplying fuel, Government assistance, if we are needed.

“There are fuel stocks on hand in Auckland and additional stocks of petrol and diesel are being trucked in directly from the refinery, and from the terminal in Mt Maunganui. The fuel companies are confident that supply of these fuels will be maintained and it is unlikely that motorists will be inconvenienced.

“The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport, so precautions have been taken to restrict the amount of fuel being used. Airlines have options to manage their operations and will be looking to minimise any inconvenience for travellers. They will keep their customers informed of any changes to flight schedules, as required.

This is quite embarrassing for Auckland Airport, potentially for the Government who bizarrely seem to be lining up for photo ops…


…and especially for the digger driver who cut the line.

More Winston bottom lines

Yesterday Winston Peters implied that a Northland rail link to Marsden Point was a bottom line, or at least was an election promise.

Newshub:  Northland rail ‘going to happen’, Winston Peters promises

Winston Peters says the Northport rail project at Marsden Point is his bottom line for any coalition deal.

NZ First has been strongly advocating the connection, which may cost up to $1 billion.

Mr Peters says it’s the first thing both National and Labour will have to concede if he’s the kingmaker.

“I can say for the people of Northland and Whangerei this is going to happen,” he told The Nation on Saturday morning.

“We’ve got the corridor, it’s been designated – the only thing it lacks is the commitment from central Government, and that’s one of the first things we’re going to be doing straight after the election.”

Today he had another promise/bottom line: Winston Peters delivers bottom-line binding referendum on abolishing Maori seats

Winston Peters promised “explosive policy” at his party’s convention on Sunday but it was a tried and true pledge of referenda on abolishing the Maori seats and reducing the number of MPs that he delivered.

Speaking to media following his speech, Peters said the size of Parliament needs to reduce because there was a referendum in 1999 where 80 per cent of the country wanted to reduce the overall number of MPs but it wasn’t binding.

“The public should be asked again now whether they want the 120 or 100.”

A binding referendum on the two matters would be held on the same day in the middle of the next election term.

Peters said both issues were “explosive” but in particular the Maori seats because “Maori progress economically and socially has been massively sidetracked, detoured and road blocked by the Waitangi industry”.

“How could that possibly happen when we’ve got all these new members of Parliament coming from the Maori world?”

Peters said he wouldn’t use “silly phrases” like “bottom lines” but he made it clear the referendum wasn’t negotiable.

“My strategy is to tell everybody out there that you won’t be talking to NZ First unless you want a referendum on both those issues at the mid-term mark of this election.”

So it’s not a ‘bottom line’, it’s non-negotiable.

Peters is clocking up a few non negotiable policies. Unless he doesn’t have to negotiate:

Peters’ interview with media was interrupted several times by members of his youth wing yelling “Make New Zealand great again” but when asked if he thought his supporters using a Donald Trump slogan was helpful, Peters said he had never heard Trump say that.

He talked about a “great political upset coming” and signed off with a promise – “we will be, most definitely, the Government.”

That’s fairly ambitious to say the least, unless it’s just hot air.

I wonder if he would agree to a referendum of MPs in the next coalition on whether a referendum on Maori seats should happen?