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I was linked into the Parliament Petitions Committee hearing recently on our petition regarding the Marsden Point Oil Refinery.
I was dismayed to hear the representative from MBIE giving false information to the committee about the ability of the refinery to use Taranaki oil and the quantities it can process.
Much of my information comes from senior operators at the refinery.
The refinery is configured to ideally process a mixture of both heavy crude (lowest cost – hence the installation of the hydrocracker in 1986 at a final cost of $1.84 billion) and light crude (called condensate). Contrary to what MBIE asserted, the refinery throughput, up until its shutdown, ran on a mixture of heavy crude and 15%-20% light crude from Taranaki.
Therefore as NZ produces approximately one third of the refinery’s maximum capacity per day it has the capacity to keep essential services in NZ going in the event of a supply crisis and the ‘stop start’ scenario suggested MBIE is simply a fairy tale.
Again, contrary to the MBIE assertion the refinery could operate on Taranaki oil if necessary in a crisis situation – albeit somewhat inefficiently, particularly if it was to use a small portion of heavy crude (there would normally be some left in storage tanks) which it could source from South America for example.
I find it particularly concerning that MBIE should have accepted material from the refining company, now Channel Infrastructure, which has a conflict of interest in wanting to see the refinery shut down without doing the appropriate checking to authenticate the veracity of that information.
Even the MBIE report commissioned for Cabinet acknowledged ‘While the refinery is configured to refine overseas crude oil, in an emergency the refinery could potentially refine domestic crude oil (from Taranaki) at some level, provided the “closed border” event does not also restrict other essential refining inputs. Meeting even a fraction of normal fuel demand could enable at least some critical functions to be maintained (e.g. food distribution) even though most fuel use would be severely constrained.’
It is not too late for New Zealand to have that fuel security insurance.
Leader, Social Credit Party