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NZ Refining plans to dredge harbour

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/05/2016 Fiona Rotherham

New Zealand Refining hopes to apply for resource consents by the end of this year to dredge Whangarei Harbour to allow heavier loads on tankers bringing crude oil to the refinery.

Chief executive Sjoerd Post told Wednesday's annual meeting consent application readiness for dredging sand at the harbour's mouth is a high bar needing a multitude of studies and extensive community consultation.

It has already spent around $3.5 million on feasibility studies and the dredging is expected to cost between $30m-$45m.

The refinery's customers are currently only able to import 600,000 to 700,000 barrels of crude oil monthly rather than a tanker's full capacity of 1 million barrels because the heavier load risks the tanker hitting the channel bottom. Being able to make fewer, but fully laden trips would save money.

There has been no decision whether to apply under the Resource Management Act or to Environmental Protection Authority for a fast-tracked national interest project. Mr Post said it could take until mid-2018 to "get the shovels out", for completion in 2019.

Under a new strategy, the meeting heard the board will shift NZ Refining's capital growth expenditure from "occasional big bullets" to a more even spread over the next few years, in the order of $10m-$50m a year, he said.

It has spent some $735m on large capital projects in the past decade, including the $365m Te Mahi Hou project completed this year to lift petrol production by two million barrels to around 14 million barrels a year and boost the refinery's share of the country's petrol demand to 65 per cent.

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