The Defence Force will start transporting fuel around the country from tomorrow to help ease the shortage following a pipeline rupture.

The HMNZS Endeavour will sail for Marsden Point Oil Refinery and upload up to 4.8 million litres of diesel fuel on Thursday morning, said Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.

The ship will then deliver the fuel to ports around New Zealand.

"Endeavour can provide the equivalent of 150 road tankers of fuel. Deploying the ship will free up commercial tankers to reconfigure and focus on moving aviation fuel," Gall said.


"This will help ease distribution issues in other regional centres."

The army is also being drafted in to help - with 12 army drivers taking the wheels of civilian tankers to transport aviation fuel to Auckland, Palmerston North and Napier around the clock from tomorrow until September 30, he said.

Six would drive the tankers from Marsden Point to Auckland, while another six would be moving fuel from Wellington to Palmerston North and Napier, he said.

Refining NZ said this afternoon that "good progress" had been made on the pipe's repair overnight and through the day.

"One of four welds has been completed and the first of the two inline stopple plugs is in place. This work has been completed on schedule and to plan," said spokesman Greg McNeill.

The new 17m pipe section will be hydro-tested, and delivered to site tomorrow morning.

The excavation trench was being extended to accommodate this replacement section, McNeill said.

"We expect to be able to start cutting out the damaged section tomorrow morning. It will be drained, then cut and removed."


Refining NZ was on track to deliver jet fuel via the pipeline to Wiri between midday Sunday and midday Tuesday next week, he said.

Settling, recertification and transport to the airport for use would take another 30 hours.

Earlier today Energy Minister Judith Collins told a media conference that the group of political and industry representatives met in Auckland this morning.

The Energy and Resources Minister said truck drivers will be able to get overweight permits easier and routes will be laid out to allow tankers to transport fuel as quickly as possible.

Collins said the significance of the event wasn't understood until late Saturday and the response to the crisis by the airlines and fuel industry has been "tremendous".

She said she was in constant contact with the chief executive of Refining NZ and the timeframe of midday Sunday-Tuesday for a fix looks firm.

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No representative was at the conference from Refining NZ, but Collins said the CEO was committed to being available to the media and public on the issue.

Peter Mersi, the CEO of the Ministry of Transport, said there are a range of parties that need to come together to co-ordinate the two options of trucks transporting fuel from Marsden Pt to the airport and shipping fuel from Marsden Pt.

Mersi said there are no concerns for the supply of ground fuel, the fuel sold in service stations, in Auckland.

New Zealand Defence Force drivers are being trained in the loading and unloading of fuel tankers so the trucks can run 24/7, Mersi said.

Refining NZ has stopped one end of the pipe, when the other end of the pipe is stopped they can cut the damaged section of pipe and replace it, Mersi said.

Refining NZ is running to schedule and the window for the repair remains Tuesday.

Mersi said a contingency plan is being set up for the instance where the pipe is not repaired within the timeframe.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, Executive Director of Board of Airline Representatives, said the airlines are meeting the 30 per cent fuel allocation goal and disruptions to flights are reducing.

There will be fewer cancellations over coming days, he said.

Tighe-Umbers said there will be some delays and disruptions due to fuel stops needed in Australia.

He said for people who continue to face delays and disruptions to their travel plans this will be cold comfort, and he asked for patience and understanding.

Andrew McNaught, speaking on behalf of fuel industry customers of Refining NZ, said the refinery is continuing to produce fuel and two dedicated ships are continuing to load the fuel to distribute it at ports around the country.

The fuel industry has 14 trucks operating between the Marsden Pt refinery and Auckland, an increase from usually having two.

McNaught said the 30 per cent allocation of aviation fuel is a significant challenge for the airlines and the allocation will be reviewed on a daily basis.

McNaught said converting chemical tanks at Wynyard wharf to be able to store aviation fuel is a possibility that is being considered.

Adrian Littlewood, chief executive of Auckland Airport, said things are calm in both the domestic and international terminals and passengers are dealing with the situation "with grace".

"The airlines have done a fantastic job of rehousing those passengers onto other flights."

Littlewood said the airport will continue to support the response and soon the focus would turn to bouncing back from the crisis in time for the school holidays.

Auckland Council has asked all staff to review their air travel, to support the 30 per cent allocation of aviation fuel for the airlines.