The rupturing of the Marsden to Wiri oil pipeline has identified issues in resilience planning which should be resolvable without building another pipeline, says Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand.
Increasing fuel storage so that the country has some redundancy in the event of pipeline damage is one option, he maintains.
“For this to occur, asset owners need to be able to consent storage and protect assets from reverse sensitivity objections.
“Resilience investment needs to be more strongly recognised in our planning and consenting frameworks so that regulatory barriers do not discourage industry from providing the backup New Zealand needs.
“In addition, we need to ensure fuels can be transported around the country in the event of an emergency.
“In particular, the corridor linking Whangarei to Auckland needs to be robust and we need to have enough vehicles and drivers to respond to urgent need.
“There may also be opportunities to strengthen existing assets to make them less vulnerable to disruption.
“Recent reporting suggests signage may have been poor near where the damage to the pipeline occurred.”
Keeping infrastructure corridors well-maintained is a priority and should be monitored, Selwood argues.
“Technology is a vital part of the solution.
“3D mapping tools and Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be used to maintain a detailed understanding of where assets are located.
“Better systems for obtaining, holding and accessing this information are required.”
Major supply problems suggest contingency planning has been inadequate, Selwood says.
“This is a significant rupture, but not one which should sit outside the bounds of good resilience planning.
“It is unclear exactly who is or should be accountable for ensuring the security of supply in the event of a disruption.”
Major parties have voiced support for the creation of an Infrastructure Commission, Selwood notes.
“Taking a strategic leadership position on activities like resilience monitoring, preparation and reporting would be a core activity of such an entity,” he says.