A large oil leak in the Tauranga Harbour is believed to have been caused by two very small corrosion holes in a Mobil fuel pipeline.
An unknown amount of oil leaked into Tauranga Harbour on Monday from a pipeline, with sludgy, black clumps of oil found as far away as Maungatapu.
Mobil Oil New Zealand country manager Andrew McNaught yesterday said in a written statement that an initial visual inspection of the pipeline had taken place and indicated that the fuel oil leak occurred from two small corrosion holes in a 150mm diameter lateral pipeline.
"This short section of pipe, approximately three metres long, branches off the main pipeline along the wharf which carries fuel oil for ship bunkering."
Mr McNaught said the pipelines were inspected quarterly and a pressure test was conducted in March with no issues identified.
He said the company's efforts were focused on removing pockets of fuel oil which remained around the wharf where the leak occurred.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council regional on-scene commander Peter Buell said the regional council would do everything within its power to remove all the oil. "We are working with experts and professionals, and working closely with iwi to achieve the best result possible."
Mr Buell said oil found in pockets under the wharf where the leak occurred would be removed once the weather improved. He said he did not know how much oil was under the wharf.
Oil in the water would be cleaned using several different methods - booms, skimmers, oil pads and by hand with spades.
Mr Buell said he would not speculate on how much fuel had spilled into the harbour.
The damage to a waka from the spill is the least of Pat Mohi's worries - it's fixing the water that is the biggest issue.
Mr Mohi is a crew member aboard the Hine Moana - a double waka that has been berthed at Tauranga Bridge Marina since earlier this year to have maintenance and repairs carried out. It was one of the vessels that copped the most amount of oil from Monday's spill.
"This is one of New Zealand's biggest ports - if we can't contain this, how are we going to deal with off-shore drilling? I don't think we can really take the risk."
The boat has just been completely sanded and repainted, but Mr Mohi said he was more worried about the state of the pipi and mussel beds, and the ongoing effects of oil pollution to the harbour.
Tauranga Bridge Marina Travelift owner Lucy Goodchap met yesterday with a Mobil representative.
"He reassured us that whatever needs to happen to clean it up needs to happen."
Mrs Goodchap had to hire a sucker truck on Tuesday to remove all the oil that had collected inside her haul-out deck, but the walls of the dock were still "caked" with oil.
There was no point removing it just for more oil to stick again.
"We boomed the entrance to the dock as well, but we've been led to believe there's more oil underneath."