New Zealand is partially easing fuel rationing, a spokesman for the country’s oil industry says, a sign the five-day long fuel shortage that has caused air travel disruptions is subsiding.
More than 120 flights have been cancelled this week in Auckland after the single privately owned pipeline that carries jet fuel from a refinery to the city’s airport was damaged.
National carrier Air New Zealand said it expected flights to run as usual on Friday, with no cancellations for the first time since Sunday.
Airline fuel allocations would rise to 50 per cent, from 30 per cent, at midnight (0000 on Friday, or 2200 AEST), said Andrew McNaught, manager for Mobil New Zealand and a spokesman for the customers of the country’s only oil refinery operator, Refining NZ.
New Zealand’s government and oil industry have taken measures to try to contain the crisis, from fuel rationing to calling on the military to help truck in supplies of fuel, and have set up an industry-government group to handle the fallout.
A New Zealand navy vessel will ferry diesel fuel around the country as the government rushes to alleviate the shortage in the run-up to Saturday’s national election.
The ship would transport up to 4.8 million litres of diesel – equivalent to 150 tankers – to enable the oil industry to focus on providing jet fuel to Auckland airport, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said on Thursday.
The measures were simply a stopgap until the pipe was repaired, which would take place by September 26, McNaught said.
The ordeal has become a headache for the ruling National Party, which is battling it out with the newly invigorated Labour Party to form the next government.