New Zealand Forced to Ration Jet Fuel

A recent fuel shipment was found to be too conductive to be safely used by airlines.

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An Air New Zealand airline parked a remote parking spot with another ANZ plane taking off in the background.
Photo: William West / AFP (Getty Images)

New Zealand now has to ration jet fuel after a recent shipment into the country was found to be contaminated. The country is solely reliant on imported fuel, and Reuters reported that New Zealand isn’t scheduled to receive another shipment until December 12th. However, that fuel won’t be ready to be pumped into airliners until December 18th. Despite warnings to travelers from the country’s government, a few major airlines have already announced that they won’t be changing their operations during this busy holiday travel period.

Fuel importer Z Energy stated that the tainted shipment of jet fuel had conductivity levels above regulatory thresholds after being tested on Monday. The issue with the batch didn’t appear in tests when it initially arrived in New Zealand. High conductivity can cause several issues with aviation fuel. The higher-than-normal conductivity can impact fuel gauge sensors and result in incorrect readers. Also, the fuel could potentially spark and explode while it is being pumped.

Z Energy imports about 40 percent of New Zealand’s fuel for all forms of transportation. A spokesperson from Z Energy told Radio New Zealand:

“We don’t know what caused this. At this stage the priority is working to manage the impacts to customers and resolve this issue as soon as possible. We will complete a full investigation to understand what has happened once we get through our immediate priorities... there are a range of factors that could influence conductivity levels and there is no benefit to speculate at this stage.”

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New Zealand used to refine its own fuel until the Marsden Point Oil Refinery was closed in April this year. Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines had publicly stated that they will operate as normal despite their fuel supplies at Auckland Airport being cut by 25 percent.