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The Government is offering "all [the] assistance it can" after a leak halted Auckland Airport's main supply of jet fuel.
Prime Minister Bill English said he had a received a high-level briefing on the issue early on Sunday morning.
Ministers, including Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins, had been instructed to work with the companies affected.
"My understanding is that it's the sort of problem that would require government agencies and oil companies to work together," the prime minister said.
English said he didn't want to speculate on the likely impacts of the jet fuel shortages.
The 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.
Twenty departing flights had been cancelled on Sunday.
Auckland Airport spokesman Simon Lambourne confirmed oil companies were limiting the amount of fuel supplies to airlines.
On Sunday, the 14-hour Emirates flight from Auckland to Dubai would stop off at Christchurch Airport to "top up" with fuel, airport spokeswoman Yvonne Densem said.
Passengers would remain on the plane before flying on to Dubai.
Densem said it was the only flight the airport had been asked to help with on Sunday.
The expected arrival time in Dubai would likely extend by 2.5 hours to 7.50am, according to a message posted on Emirates' website.
The airline recommended passengers with connecting flights to contact the local Emirates office to change their connection.
Traveller Jeanette Bradford said the reroute through Christchurch meant she would miss her connecting flight from Dubai to Manchester.
"We've been scheduled on another flight, meaning we get home seven hours and 15 minutes later than original[ly planned].
"Massive inconvenience, as [we] had arrangements on our return which now have to be rearranged."
Aucklander Kirsty Moffat said she and her partner were booked to fly home from Christchurch at 2pm on Sunday, but their flight had since been cancelled.
After 45 minutes on the phone, they were able to get seats on a flight leaving at 6.30am Monday.
"We were told 6.30am was the only option, end of," she said.
"We're lucky, we don't have small kids to consider, that would have just been diabolical ... every other flight was fully booked so it was that or nothing."
Moffat said she had been advised by the airline that she and her partner would be reimbursed for a hotel and a meal.
A statement from Air New Zealand said the airline was "working through the implications for aircraft operations" in the coming days.
Some long-haul flights to and from Asian and North American countries would stop to refuel at some Australian and Pacific airports.
To "consolidate passenger loads", the airline would cancel some domestic and Australian services.
Meanwhile, domestic flights from Wellington and Christchurch would be filled to their maximum limits to ease the load in Auckland.
Refining NZ spokesman Greg McNeil said the 168km pipeline was stopped about 2.30pm on September 14 after monitoring picked up a drop in pressure on the multi-supply pipeline.
A helicopter was dispatched and discovered a leak of jet fuel eight kilometres south of the refinery near Ruakaka, he said.
"We have been doing a recovery and repair operation ... [crews are] excavating around the pipeline so we can see what damage there may be. That's nearly complete," McNeil said.
Just how long the pipeline would be stopped was not yet clear. McNeil said experts would decide on how best to repair the leak.
A range of experts, including those from oil companies, were involved in the operation, he said.
The Energy and Resources Minister said she had been in touch with the pipeline's owner, Refining NZ, and fuel companies affected.
"Refining NZ has all the expert technical assistance resources it needs, including international expertise," Collins said.
Up to 400,000 litres of finished product can be pumped down the line, which is 25cm in diameter, every hour, Refining NZ's website said.
Mobil Oil New Zealand's manager Andrew McNaught said fuel companies were trying to manage the impact of the temporary shut-down.
"The industry is liaising with Auckland Airport to carefully manage supplies and minimise any disruption to flight operations due to the pipeline repairs."
He said fuel companies were working with airlines to keep them updated on developments and "supporting their efforts to minimise any disruptions to flight operations".
That would include flights carrying more fuel in order to enable return flights without refuelling, refuelling at other airports, and stopping to fuel at other airports on the way to and from Auckland, McNaught said.
Alternative supply arrangements were being made for road fuels, he said.
"This includes transporting more fuel from the refinery via road-tankers, diverting additional loads to Auckland where possible, and working with customers to carefully manage their supply requirements."
McNaught said it was "important to note" that the refinery was still running and fuel was still being manufactured, shipped, and trucked to consumers.
"Additionally, finished fuel imports are still coming into New Zealand.
"While the pipeline also supplies petrol and diesel to Auckland, we are confident that supply of these fuels can be maintained via industry trucking from the refinery in Whangarei, and fuel terminals at Mount Maunganui. If any retail customers were inconvenienced, we are confident this would be minimal and short-lived."
It was the first time the pipeline had experienced a fault, he said
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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