The fuel industry in New Zealand

New Zealand's fuel industry has 5 main components — production and refining as well as importing, and distribution with retailing.

Refining

Refining NZ is New Zealand's only refiner of oil products, and one of the most modern refineries in the world — making New Zealand potentially self-sufficient in all refined products. It's located in Marsden Point, Northland, next to a deep water port, with low risk of earthquakes, and a reasonable proximity to the population centres of the North Island.

The refinery processes a wide range of crude oils imported from key offshore markets, producing premium and regular petrol, automotive and marine diesel, aviation kerosene, and other fuel oils for the New Zealand market. It supplies up to 70% of the national demand for fuel annually — the rest is imported.

Refining NZ is owned by corporate and private investors and the 3 major New Zealand oil companies — BP, Mobil and Z. These companies are the main shareholders, as well as customers. All the crude oils and feedstocks that are refined at Marsden Point are imported, predominantly from the Middle and Far East.

Refining NZ website(external link)

Imported fuel

Fuel that's imported directly into New Zealand comes mainly from refineries in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific, primarily via the Singaporean and Korean hubs.

When necessary, BP, Mobil and Z Energy import finished products into all major ports around New Zealand, but mainly to storage terminals at Mt Maunganui, Wellington and Lyttelton.

Refining NZ doesn't import any finished products. However, from time to time, when Auckland’s demand is high, the major oil companies may also import finished product through Refining NZ tanks, to send to Auckland via the Auckland pipeline.

Distribution of refined product

The three main avenues for distribution of petroleum from the Marsden Point Refinery to regional centres are by:

  • pipeline to the Wiri storage terminal in South Auckland
  • coastal tanker to storage terminals at New Zealand ports
  • road tankers.

Almost half of the refined fuel products travels via a purpose-built 170 km pipeline to the Wiri terminal in South Auckland for storage and distribution. There is a further pipeline carrying jet fuel from Wiri to Auckland International Airport.

The refinery also distributes fuel products by road transport, and by 2 dedicated coastal tankers to 13 port destinations throughout New Zealand.

Retailing

New Zealand currently has up to a dozen large and small operators on the fuel retail market, so consumers definitely have a choice.

Among the large players are BP, Mobil and Z Energy (the latter including the Caltex brand) who sell up to 80% of the fuel products nationwide.

Smaller operators often serve their special customers — such as farmers — covering remote areas and tourist destinations. Among them are Gull, Challenge, GAS, as well as petroleum companies such as Allied, Waitomo and Nelson.

In total the number of fuel stations accessible to public is around 1,200, while the volume of fuel sold nationwide is approaching 6 billion litres per year.