Auckland fuel crisis report finds more resilience needed at airport end

A report into the fuel crisis that threw Auckland into chaos for more than a week has found the system is vulnerable and needs more resilience.

The pipeline that supplied Auckland Airport with fuel was damaged in September 2017, leading to a shortage across the region.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled as airlines struggled to make do with less than a third of the fuel they were used to having.

The independent Inquiry into the Auckland Fuel Supply Disruption Report found the infrastructure needs to be protected, and there needs to be more resilience built into the system in the form of extra storage at the airport.

It also recommended more preparation and planning in case anything similar happens again.

Report co-author Roger Blakely told The AM Show it's a very vulnerable piece of infrastructure.

"A single point of failure anywhere between Marsden Point and Northland could disrupt fuel supplies to Auckland for a very long time.

"We didn't think it was a very good idea to recommend building an additional pipeline which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars."

There are some concerns about the cost associated with updating the system though, Professor Basil Sharp told Newshub it's going to be pricey.

"We really need to be careful about the cost associated with building redundancies into our infrastructure."

Board of Airline Representatives NZ executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said he thinks the cost could be passed on to air travel.

"Ultimately all of this investment in infrastructure to improve resilience will find its way onto air travel costs, so it's looking to strike the right balance.

"I believe the report's managed to achieve that."

The incident isn't far from Tighe-Umbers' mind though and he can still remember the dark days of September 2017.

"Airlines had less than a third of their usual fuel to operate with, which obviously caused huge disruption to travellers and airlines managing their networks."

But he's hoping to see some more work on resilience from fuel companies in the future.

"We also want to see greater transparency from Mobil, BP and Z in their investment plans to meet this level of resilience and better coordination in managing those investments."