The pipe which carries fuel from the Marsden Point oil refinery to Auckland is one of New Zealand's most critical pieces of infrastructure.
Ninety per cent of finished product comes down the pipe - the Refinery to Auckland pipeline, or RAP - to Wiri. A second pipe from Wiri to Auckland International Airport - WAP - supplies all the airport's jet fuel needs.
It is therefore extraordinary that the pipe has been knocked out of action in a soggy paddock just a few kms south of the refinery seemingly by a digger operator searching for valuable swamp kauri.
Given its vital importance to the economy - as witnessed by the massive disruption to flights arriving and departing Auckland once the impact of fuel shortages intensified - it is astonishing that a digger was able to work in what ought to be a secure and protected corridor.
The importance of the pipe is underlined by the 20 per cent rise in jet fuel demand in the year to March due to the increasing number of long-haul flights to Auckland. Since the last assessment of New Zealand's oil supply security, in 2012, jet fuel demand has risen by a third.
Eighteen million people now pass through the airport over the course of a year, which means the pipeline shutdown has inconvenienced tens of thousands of travellers and hit firms which use airlines.
It would be understandable though no less disruptive if the pipeline was damaged by an earthquake. Research for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which is updating its assessments of risks to fuel terminals and pipelines, suggests that tsunamis could be larger than previously thought and pose another level of disruption.
But these are natural events and part of the background to the operation of New Zealand's roads, rail network, ports and airports.
It seems damage to the pipe occurred three months or so ago. Over the next few weeks the pipe weakened to the point where a serious leak was found near Ruakaka last Thursday. One of the many questions that a review of this episode needs to examine will be should that damage have been detected before the pipe ruptured?
Should regular inspections and checks have revealed that the pipe was compromised to the extent that it needed to be shut down?
The emergency measures in place since the weekend are likely to see the economy get through the fuel crisis, with the worse impact felt at the airport and in the multi-million dollar activities it supports.
Jet fuel can be carted by road from Marsden Pt and the Port of Tauranga. Airlines are loading up with extra fuel before heading to Auckland, and aircraft are being diverted to Christchurch and Wellington, or topping up their tanks in Australia or the Pacific Island.
But given the rapid growth of flights into Auckland, there needs to be urgent consideration given to enlarging fuel storage facilities to provide a buffer in the event of annother emergency.
Last but not least, it goes without saying that diggers have no business anywhere near the fuel pipe.