Repeated problems with aviation fuel supplies highlight how badly global fuel companies have let New Zealand down, says the Maritime Union.
Another bad batch of aviation fuel has resulted in shortages and rationing for flights, the third incident in a year.
The Maritime Union is one of the founders of the Save Our Tankers campaign last year to keep the now-closed Marsden Point refinery operating and coastal oil tankers in service.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the current situation is a result of allowing New Zealand fuel security to come second to the profit margins of overseas corporates.
He says the potential for fuel supply issues was flagged repeatedly by maritime industry professionals.
“The oil companies rubbished concerns, but they have gone very quiet as they fail again and again to deliver.”
Mr Harrison says if New Zealand had its own refinery and tankers, it would have the ability to reprocess ‘off spec’ fuel locally, reducing the risk of disruption.
He says overseas oil companies have now made New Zealand dependent on refined fuel supplies arriving from refineries in the Northern Hemisphere.
A report prepared for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in 2020 warned without refining capacity at Marsden Point, there was no capability to reprocess an off-spec shipment at Marsden Point.
Two New Zealand crewed and flagged coastal tankers were taken out of service earlier in 2022 after oil companies shut down Marsden Point refinery and moved to a direct import model.
Mr Harrison says there is a need for refining capability in New Zealand and a fleet of New Zealand coastal tankers to provide dedicated local service and redundancy in case of emergency situations.
“New Zealand tankers could even carry out a trans-Tasman run if required to ensure continuity of supply.”