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WATCH: The Channel Infrastructure chief executive has shut down the Marsden Point oil refinery, but says its tanks are now available to store reserves of refined oil to tide NZ through the Ukraine crisis and beyond

Fuel companies will now import New Zealand’s refined oil from a range of countries including Singapore, Korea and Japan, which the Marsden Point import terminal boss says will make the country less vulnerable to fuel shortages.

Talking to Newsroom Pro managing editor Jonathan Milne on an episode of Newsroom Pro Talks, Naomi James says Channel Infrastructure – as the former refining company is now known – has already done deals with its biggest customers and shareholders, Mobil, Z Energy and BP.

“We have signed agreements with the oil companies for 280 million litres total product storage,” she says.

Of that, 180 million litres is shared by the companies, and 100 million litres is private.

“To put that into context, the 100 million litres private is equivalent to around four days cover for New Zealand, based on 2019, pre-Covid demand). That’s with capacity to increase available storage if it were required.”

She says the company hasn’t suffered any disruptions from the shift from refining crude oil to being a fully import-based terminal for refined fuel, nor from the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The shift is really that we’re sourcing it from a range of refineries around the world,” she says. 

“Our customers primarily source from refineries in Asia, to supply New Zealand. That was already occurring for about 30 percent of our fuel supply, even while we had the refinery operating. So one of the changes with the transition is we’re less dependent on a single refinery than we were previously. And our supply will be coming from a range of of refineries around the Asian region.”

James says it’s not viable to refine New Zealand’s small quantities of light Taranaki crude oil, as the refinery was designed for much bigger runs of imported heavy crude oil.

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Newsroom Pro Talks is made with the support of Spark.

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Newsroom Pro managing editor Jonathan Milne covers business, politics and the economy.

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