NZFuelFail - Worthy of further investigation?

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Recently, a crucial bit of NZ national infrastructure - a 150+ kilometer long fuel pipe between Marsden Point Oil Refinery and the Auckland Aiport - failed. Turns out there was no redundancy, and Refinery NZ, who has the natural monopoly over that single pipe, wasn't required by the government to provide redundancy or even a realistic failover proposition for that pipe were it to fail. To the untrained eye, this looks like gross incompetence in risk identification and mitigation from either the regulator (Government), or the monopolist, or both. Given reports that say the vulnerability was officially identified in 2012, I'd say "both" is the likely answer.

Its failure has resulted in significant fuel shortages, affecting land transport in Auckland and requiring the cancellation of much domestic and international aviation out of Auckland. The time frame to repair the pipe is one to two weeks minimum. The costs of this failure, not taking into account the stress it's put on people affected, and on the perception and reputation of NZ internationally, is estimated by National's Energy Minister, Judith Collins, to be "millions and millions of dollars." Perhaps tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars? I wonder.

It appears that the pipe failure is being blamed on physical damage to the pipe caused by someone using a digger near the pipe, where it crosses a rural swamp. The digger operator was apparently seeking ancient buried kauri logs which are prized by overseas woodworkers and command a high price from exporters.

How interesting it is, then, to find that a local kauri mill and exporter close to Marsden point, Kauri Ruakaka Ltd, (originally founded as Oravida Kauri Ltd) is ultimately (through several layers of other holding companies) 98% owned by a parent company called Oravida Ltd. That is the same company which owns Oravida NZ Ltd. Oravida Ltd' s board chairperson is Dame Jenny Shipley, ex National Prime Minister...  

I understand that Kauri Ruakaka denies doing any digging in the vicinity of the pipe... although I don't believe that elminiates the possiblity that they paid someone else to do the digging under contract... Interesting.

It's worth pointing out that another Director of Oravida (according to their website at least)  a couple months ago is none other than Judith Collins' husband David Wong Tung, and that Oravida have been very generous to the National Party... Also, Mr Wong Tung resigned as a Director of Kauri Ruakaka on 1 July 2017 (according to the Companies Office website) - for the record, I believe that's after the contractor allegedly dinged the pipe, but before it actually ruptured. Hmmm.

All very interesting, and, I'm sure all totally coincidental... (I'm also told that MPI ceased to record logging permits in 2011, under a National Government, oddly enough) but there seems to be quite a lot of opportunity for improper dealings in that mix. I think this warrants further investigation.

Hmm - this article's interesting.

Update July 2020: interesting - looks like Oravida (and its director and his mecurial subsidiaries) are implicated in more major corporate negligence....


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