Update on gas incident in Taranaki

Wednesday 26 October 2011, 12:26AM
By Hekia Parata


Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, Hekia Parata, has this evening been briefed in New Plymouth on plans to address the incident that is impacting on gas supply across the upper North Island.

Vector advised early this morning of an incident on the Maui pipeline, which transports gas north from Taranaki.

Vector is the technical and system operator for the Maui pipeline. The area where the gas escape has occurred is steep and difficult terrain.

Vector has called in geotechnical engineers and is working throughout the night to assess the land and plan for a careful excavation of the pipe. Until this work is completed it is not possible to put a time frame on the repairs.

The Government has offered Vector any assistance they may need.

This is the first major problem with the Maui pipeline in its 30 years of operation.

A smaller gas pipeline (the Vector pipeline) is fully operational and is currently supplying residential customers in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

“I am reassured that Vector is taking all the necessary steps to resolve this critical infrastructure issue,’’ says Ms Parata.

The gas industry and its regulator, the Gas Industry Company, have a plan for dealing with a critical gas outage. This is set out in the Gas Governance (Critical Contingency Management) Regulations 2008.

“There is a framework designed to ensure we get a systematic and thorough response to an incident of this nature.’’

Under this plan the Gas Industry Company appoints a Critical Contingency Operator (CCO) who has the responsibility for managing the available gas supply by administering the critical contingency protocols.

The CCO operates independently and this role is currently held by Vector.