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Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins says the Defence Force and government agencies are stepping up to help minimise disruption resulting from the Marsden Point pipeline being out of action.

Ms Collins says top officials from government agencies have held further discussions today with Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, the Supply Group, representing fuel companies, airlines and others.

“The latest information I have is that aviation fuel supplies in Auckland remain of most concern, but that fuel supplies are sufficient for Auckland motorists.

“Airlines have already reduced schedules and are looking at what further changes they will need to make over the next week. But for now most flights are going ahead.

“It’s been made very clear to all of those working on this that the Government will commit whatever resources and effort are required to get this sorted out as quickly as possible with a minimum of disruption.

“I’m extremely heartened by the way everyone involved is working together and focused on what’s required. In particular, to those people who’ve had their travel plans disrupted or who face disruption in the days ahead, we understand they are frustrated. I want them to know we’re doing everything possible to get this fixed, but they should understand that it’s going to take a little time. At this stage, we’re a week or so away from the pipeline being restored.

“The nature of the damage means repair isn’t quick and the work has to be done very carefully. But if any additional personnel or expertise from  the Defence Force can speed the work up in any way then they’ll be made available.

“To free up industry resources to focus upon Auckland Airport, the Defence Force will be using the naval tanker HMNZS Endeavour to move diesel fuel from Marsden Point to other parts of the country.

“The Defence Force will also be providing up to 20 additional tanker drivers to assist local operators in managing their increased workload, cancelling a major exercise with Singapore to preserve fuel, deferring non-essential training and it’s also investigating options around refueling smaller commuter aircraft at Whenuapai Airforce Base.”

Ms Collins says further work is also being done to get more tankers on the road to carry additional fuel to Auckland.

“We’re looking at what we can do to make that easier in a regulatory sense, whether that’s around hours of work drivers or weight restrictions for tankers.  Safety is always paramount, but where we can have some further flexibility then that’s what we will do.”

“I am continuing to work with other Ministers and officials and industry and I’m also briefing the Prime Minister.”

Ms Collins says fortunately any environmental impacts from the pipeline leak appear to be very limited, with the 70-80,000 litres that escaped into a farmer’s culvert now largely recovered and plans underway to treat the soil.

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