The broken Ruakaka to Auckland pipeline causing a jet fuel crisis should be fixed tomorrow.

Refining NZ (RNZ) said the welding at both ends of the new section of pipe passed initial inspection on Thursday evening. They were being re-tested last night as per procedure (after a 24-hour holding period).

Final inspection will follow and If this is successful RNZ can proceed to pre-commissioning - testing, flushing, purging.


''We remain on track for jet fuel delivery between midday Sunday and midday Tuesday.
Settling, recertification and transport to the airport for use will take another 30 hours,'' spokesman Greg McNeill said.

Mr McNeill said the refinery's temporary jet fuel road tanker loading facility has been commissioned and road tankers started rolling our yesterday morning taking jet fuel to Auckland.

The fuel ship MV Matuku loaded a variety of fuel products yesterday and was due to leave for Auckland at 5am today, then on to Wellington, Nelson and New Plymouth. She will be carrying approximately 3.5 million litres (about 120 road tankers) of jet fuel, as well as diesel, petrol and fuel oil.

Meanwhile, graphic images have been released showing deep gouge marks, corrosion and torn insulation on the country's major oil pipeline was caused by a digger.

Northland road sector committee chairman John Bain said the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) temporarily lifted dangerous goods restrictions on the Johnstone Hill tunnels on State Highway 1 near Puhoi.

Allowing the tankers to go through the tunnels instead of the Waiwera-Orewa coastal route would cut around 30 minutes off the trip to Auckland.

Meanwhile, the photos RNZ released yesterday clearly illustrate a digger bucket's tooth indentation on the Ruakaka Auckland Pipeline (RAP) and the gouging caused when the bucket scraped over the pipe.

They also show the process of degeneration that later led to the metal finally weakening and bursting.

While government departments, ministers and the oil companies' user group organised alternative supply systems to save the day, RNZ tackled the biggest breakdown problem the company had faced.

In a flat, grass-over-peat paddock, under high tension power pylons, and in hazardous, boggy conditions, crews replaced a 17m section of the pipe on Thursday night.

As per the quality and safety tests required by insurance giant Lloyds, the welds fixing the new and old pipes together were inspected and put through their paces twice by specialists.

"An inspection of the pipeline insulation along the 2km length of the former kauri swamp confirmed the integrity of the pipeline insulation" he said.

It means that after 10 days with the 175km pipe out of action - due to a damaged piece only a metre or so long - fuel could be flowing along it again by midday tomorrow.