Posted January 1, 2019
Dredging at Marsden Pt Oil Refinery to allow larger ships to berth will go ahead after the Environment Court confirmed consents for the project, subject to minor changes.
The Environment Court has confirmed the resource consents issued to Refining NZ (RNZ) for its dredging project, subject to minor revisions agreed between the parties.
Resource consents have been approved for RNZ to take 3.7 million cubic metres of sand off the seabed to deepen and realign the current channel. Massive Suezmax tankers already visit the refinery but can only do so 90 per cent full because of the channel's current depth.
The confirmation comes four months after the company appealed the consents granted by the Northland Regional Council (NRC) and follows detailed discussions with the parties to the appeal: Patuharakeke, Northport and NRC. Those discussions centred on the consent conditions related to water clarity, turbidity, and a seasonal prohibition on dredging.
Refining NZ chief executive officer Mike Fuge said the discussions on the revised conditions were positive and constructive.
"There was real willingness by all parties to work towards a set of conditions that everyone believes are effective and workable. We have been especially conscious that the revised conditions ensure that the sensitive ecosystems in Whang?rei harbour are not impacted,'' Fuge said.
''We know for example, that Mair Bank forms a natural barrier for the refinery and holds significant cultural value for tangata whenua, so it's only right that we have the necessary monitoring measures in place before, during and after the dredging."
To satisfy the turbidity conditions, RNZ will establish a monitoring programme with real-time meters positioned at key points on the harbour, including adjacent to Mair and Marsden Banks, Motukaroro Marine Reserve and Home Point. The monitoring programme will gather baseline turbidity data for 12 months before dredging can start and will continue throughout the dredging programme. A date for dredging to start is to be confirmed.
Fuge said the dredging was strategically important for RNZ.
"Improving the economics of up to half of all crude delivered to the refinery will help to keep us competitive with imported fuel from Asia Pacific refiners.