Refining NZ is finalising customer agreements before the company board makes a final decision to convert the Marsden Pt site into an import-only terminal.
The refinery's shareholders in August voted overwhelmingly for the change to go ahead due to a glut of fuel supplies globally, combined with the impact of Covid-19 on refinery output, pipeline fees and plummeting demand for fuel.
The board of directors was expected to make a final decision at the end of the third quarter, but a company spokeswoman said no date on the final sign-off has been decided as yet.
"We have now received the necessary shareholder and lender approvals, and customer agreements are now the key remaining step before a final investment decision is made by the Refining NZ board.
"At the same time, we are continuing to plan to manage this transition safely and smoothly for our workforce, our wider community, and customers, which is all the more important given the current Covid-19 disruptions.
"We are working to finalise customer agreements in October which will enable this decision to take place soon after. We remain on track for conversion to occur in the first half of 2022," she said.
Several parties have approached the Government with proposals for the refinery's future and views on fuel security, and the possible future uses of the site.
The Government continues to keep an open mind about the planned closure of the refinery and potential future uses for the site, including green fuels.
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Whangārei-based Social Credit Party leader Chris Leith last month started the petition on change.org, calling on the Government to declare the refinery a national strategic asset and to compulsorily buy all the shares from private owners using money created by the Reserve Bank.
The Government, he said, should then turn it back into a state-owned enterprise and allow fuel retailers, rather than a monopoly consisting of major oil companies as is the case at present, to sell fuel in the country.
The petition had garnered 16,770 signatures by 1pm yesterday afternoon, and Leitch hopes to get up to 25,000 before it's presented to the Government.
"The signatures have slowed down quite a lot because news-wise, other things have taken over. We'll be doing more promotions over the next few days."
He said many people were unaware of the petition, but were pleased someone was doing something to save the refinery and hundreds of jobs.
On whether he was worried the Government may not be able to intervene given it was grappling with Covid-19, Leitch remained optimistic.
"The push for a single health authority and Three Waters to name just two of the major issues going on, so there's no reason why the rest of the Government should come to a halt because of this particular situation with Covid-19," he said.