The pumping of oil from the Rena has been completed, Prime Minister John Key confirmed today.

Mr Key said the Awanui, which was collecting the oil, was expected to leave the grounded ship this afternoon.

It had pumped about 1350 tonnes in total and the remaining oil was a small amount that would have to be mopped up.

"This is an important milestone. It's been a very successful operation and the people of Tauranga will be happy that we haven't had the environmental disaster some predicted."


He said the people of Tauranga and the salvors deserved credit for their efforts.

Work could now begin on removing containers from the Rena, which Transport Minister Steven Joyce said would take months "at least".

The shipping company had been told they had to remove the Rena from the reef when the work was completed.

However, Mr Joyce said it was effectively in 3 pieces and could still split up. Coningency plans were in place if that happened.

He said the cost of the response so far was about $12 million.

- Herald online