Works start on a notorious stretch of SH1

Works have started on one of the worst accident black spots on State Highway One.

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Photo: The Wireless / Luke McPake

Starting tonight, contractors will be felling trees and removing vegetation in the Dome Valley, north of Auckland.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said crews would be working overnight from 7pm to 6am, to minimise traffic disruption.

The job will take about two weeks.

The work will clear the way for major safety improvements along a 15km stretch from Wellsford to north of Warkworth, and includes widening, right-hand turning bays and flexible road safety barriers.

The winding road through the Dome Valley is notorious for crashes.

NZTA is advising motorists travelling between Northland and Auckland to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys.

Gordon Campbell on why shipping is New Zealand’s big new trade problem

So Jacinda Ardern and Theresa May have signed a piece of paper promising peace in our time when it comes to our trade with Britain.

Hard Brexit deal or no Brexit deal at all, there will be something called ‘regulatory continuity’ that will ensure the rules governing our trade with Britain won’t change overnight. Reportedly, Ardern thinks this should re-assure our meat industry, even though (small detail) this piece of paper is not a guarantee of trade access. So if and when Britain crashes out of the EU causing goods to pile up on both sides of the Channel and our lamb exports can’t get through to Britain for the Easter trade etc etc at least we’ll be able to sleep easy in our beds knowing that the red meat quota hasn’t changed for now. Small comfort, one would think.

Right now, a statement from Theresa May on Brexit has as much credibility as a statement by Donald Trump about North Korea’s plans for scrapping its nukes. Despite her recent crushing defeat in the Commons, May is continuing to playing chicken with Britain’s future, for personal and party advantage. No change there. She is still gambling she can terrify enough of her MPs (and the public) about the chaos of a ‘no deal’ such that Parliament will eventually ratify her wretched deal as the least worst option available. In these circumstances, New Zealand is useful only insofar as we can contribute to the illusion that Number 10 is open for something that looks like business as usual. It isn’t, of course. On both sides of the Atlantic, the practices of normal government are in virtual shutdown.

The Marpol Treaty “Tax”

Brexit is not the only concern. To date, the Ardern government’s biggest crisis came in the spring of 2018 when global fuel prices rose, and the public chose to blame the price hikes on domestic fuel tax increases. At the pump, people largely ignored the major global spike in the price of oil and raged instead about the relatively minor tax add-ons imposed by central and regional government. Panicked, the government blamed the oil companies. Luckily for all concerned, the global oil price suddenly slumped, and the political problems have largely subsided. Holiday motoring, which could have been a nagging reminder all summer of the intersection between fuel taxes and petrol prices, has caused no ripples on the political pond.

In 2019 though, a new and different kind of fuel price Godzilla is coming over the horizon, and it is likely to boost the prices of everything going in and out of the country, from Amazon packages to milk powder. It is called the Marpol Treaty, and like many things that change the world for better and worse, it started out with the best of intentions. Basically, the Marpol Treaty is a set of UN-mandated regulations (devised by the International Maritime Organisation) that among other things, is aimed at cracking down on the pollution emitted by ships, and the crucial bits are in Annex VI. As Bloomberg News recently reported, the global shipping fleets currently consume about 3.8 million barrels a day of fuel oil — in the main, this is heavy, lower-value stuff from a refining process that contains about 1 to 3.5 percent sulphur. That content level is about to change:

From January 2020, new rules from the International Maritime Organization will limit sulphur-dioxide emissions from ships. All else equal, a ship would need to burn fuel with only 0.5 percent sulphur content or less to comply.

Oh sure, there are a few ways of mitigating the impact. “Scrubbers” can be installed on board to wash the bad sulphury content into the sea, but they’re expensive to install and operate, and obviously they add to marine pollution. Very few ships will have them in place by 2020. New ships can be built to run on liquified natural gas, but obviously, that’s no answer for the existing fleets. Also, ships can be induced to steam at slower speeds, which would cut down on their emissions. New Zealand, which is famously far from its markets, would probably not welcome any move guaranteed to bring its exports/imports to market at a slower pace.

In fact, distance is one reason why the Marpol Treaty regulations may impact more severely on New Zealand than on most other nations. The advent of the Internet and digital commerce may have shrunk distance in many respects, but lets not kid ourselves. As the New Zealand official briefing papers on Marpol point out:

New Zealand relies on international shipping to move some 98 percent (by weight) of its imports and exports.

And moreover:

Over 96 percent of international maritime trade, including almost all ships involved in New Zealand’s international trade, is carried on ships registered to States that have acceded to Annex VI [which contains the sulphur emission rules]

Oh, and there’s yet another problem. The Marsden Point refinery does not seem able to cope with the changes that are coming down the pike:

The cost of retooling Marsden Point to convert all high-sulphur residues to MARPOL-compliant product will be high and prohibitively expensive. The refinery is currently exploring if it is possible to produce smaller volumes of 0.5% sulphur fuel, and what may be required to achieve this. This has not yet been fully scoped nor costed. Currently, high sulphur by-products from refining have commercial value to Marsden Point. Once the 0.5 % sulphur requirement comes into force, this situation may change, affecting the refinery’s business model in this regard. In the event that there is a major shift to low SOx fuels, there is an open question as to how the high sulphur residues will be disposed of or used.

Do I hear the cliché “perfect storm”? Here’s another contributing factor to that storm. As the folks at Bloomberg point out, the transition to a low-sulphur diesel or gas oil fuel is also likely to push the price of the good low-sulphur diesel sharply upwards. At which point of course, President Trump could decide to intervene, if only to stop any sharp increase in fuel costs for MAGA-cap wearing truckers from undermining his chances for re-election in 2020:

While fuel-oil prices would tank, the price of low-sulphur diesel would, all else equal, jump. That’s a problem for truckers — like the ones ferrying Amazon’s goodies around — for whom fuel has fluctuated between roughly 20 to 40 percent of the cost-per-mile over the past decade. This explains why President Trump…might want to slow the International Maritime Organisation’s roll in 2020. However, since the U.S. effectively agreed to the rules a decade ago via an act of Congress, delaying or thwarting them isn’t a simple process. Despite efforts by the Trump administration to turn it, a supertanker is bearing down on drivers, oil majors, and even Amazon.com Inc.

Footnote: According to the government briefing document linked to above, New Zealand needs to get its position together on the Marpol Treaty Annex VI process quite soon. A Cabinet decision to accede to the process is expected in the first half of 2019. All going well, a parliamentary select committee would then consider the National Interest Analysis (NIA) and treaty text, and report back to Parliament by mid-2019. Government agencies would complete work on the regulatory amendments required to put the Treaty provisions into domestic law by the third quarter of 2020, and New Zealand would hope to deposit its instrument of accession with the IMO by late 2020, with the aim of putting our compliance into effect by the beginning of 2021. Right now, public submissions are being invited, and the closing date is 11 February 2019. Werewolf will continue to report on this issue.

MAN Cryo Takes Further Step towards Cleaner Shipping in World-First

MAN Cryo, the wholly owned subsidiary of MAN Energy Solutions, has – in close cooperation with Fjord1 and Multi Maritime in Norway – developed a marine fuel-gas system for liquefied hydrogen.

Multi Maritime’s hydrogen vessel design for Fjord1, including the fully integrated ‘MAN Cryo – Hydrogen Fuel Gas System’, has been granted preliminary approval in principle, “AIP”, by the DNV-GL Classification society. The award is significant in that the system is the first marine-system design globally to secure such an approval.

Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions, said: “Winning this approval is a significant development for a number of reasons. As a solution for vessels employed on relatively short maritime routes, such as ferries, this technology is a world-first and showcases our company’s ability to deliver genuinely innovative solutions. Furthermore, Hydrogen is a clean fuel whose profile fits perfectly with the general desire within the industry to move towards cleaner technology. The possibilities for this technology are varied and exciting.”

MAN Cryo developed the Liquid Hydrogen Marine Fuel Gas System design in-house at its headquarters in Gothenburg in close cooperation with the shipowner, Fjord1, and ship designer, Multi Maritime, in Norway.

Louise Andersson, Head of MAN Cryo, said: “To secure this approval in principle shows the determination that MAN Energy Solutions has to advance cleaner shipping solutions.”

She continued: “Our strategy is to actively work with our customers to design and promote cleaner ways of powering vessels, and the competence and energy within MAN Cryo conveys this strategy excellently.”

Fuel-gas system for liquefied hydrogen

The system has a scalable design that allows easy adaptation for different shipping types, sizes and conditions. The design is suited for both above- and below-deck applications, offering ship designers the flexibility to optimise their designs in relation to efficiency, and to cargo or passenger space.

MAN Cryo has long experience with cryogenic gases and solutions for storage and distribution. The company has also made numerous hydrogen installations over the years on land that, in combination with its extensive experience from marine fuel-gas systems for LNG, have been invaluable when designing the new system.

Liquefied hydrogen has a temperature of -253° Celsius and is one of the absolutely coldest cryogenic gases there is, which places system components and materials under extreme stresses. Another design challenge was hydrogen’s explosive nature, with the MAN Cryo engineering team accordingly placing top priority on safety.

Once liquefied, hydrogen is reduced to 1/800th of its volume, compared to that of its gas phase, facilitating a more-efficient distribution. As a fuel, hydrogen does not release any CO2 and can play an important role in the transition to a clean, low-carbon, energy system. Liquefied hydrogen can be used to charge batteries for electrical propulsion via fuel-cell technology. MAN Cryo states that it sees a bright future for hydrogen applications globally as part of its target of achieving zero fossil emissions within the marine sector by 2050. In particular, Norway is currently developing several promising hydrogen applications.

The Maritime Energy Transition

Shipping in particular is facing great challenges with regard to more environmentally-friendly fuel sources, which is why MAN Energy Solutions has argued in favour of what it terms a ‘Maritime Energy Transition’ for some time as the most promising way to achieve a climate-neutral shipping industry.

The term ‘Maritime Energy Transition’ stems from the German expression ‘Energiewende’ and encapsulates MAN Energy Solutions’ call to action to reduce emissions and establish natural gas as the fuel of choice in global shipping. It is also an umbrella covering all MAN Energy Solutions’ activities in regard to supporting a climate-neutral shipping industry. Launched in 2016 after COP 21, the initiative has since found broad support within the shipping industry and German politics.

About MAN Cryo

MAN Cryo offers systems for the storage, distribution and handling of liquefied gases and has a pioneering reputation within the marine sector and LNG business development. It supplied the world’s first LNG fuel-gas system for the ‘Glutra’ ferry in Norway in 1999, a vessel that is still operational to this day. More recently, in 2013, MAN Cryo supplied the world’s first bunker vessel, the ‘SeaGas’, with operations in Stockholm, Sweden. The design for the conversion of the SeaGas was also provided by Multi Maritime with whom MAN Cryo has a long-time cooperation.
Source: MAN Energy Solutions

An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.
SUPPLIED
An aerial view of Ports of Auckland from the west.

A rift has opened up between Auckland Council and the Government over how the future of the city’s port will be decided.

Mayor Phil Goff says there’s a risk that a Government-appointed working group looking at the upper North Island ports might have pre-determined whether Auckland’s council-owned port could move, and if so where.

Goff said he put a “robust” view to the working group’s chair, former Far North mayor Wayne Brown, in a private meeting last week.

A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion
BEVAN READ/STUFF
A council commissioned study found shifting the vehicle import trade, could lose Auckland $1 billion

He said Brown’s public rejection of two potential locations identified by a council study didn’t give confidence, and the group didn’t appear to have enough time or resources to do a proper job.

The council on Tuesday approved a blunt letter to be sent to Brown, ahead of the council’s first formal meeting with the working group in just over a fortnight.

Goff favoured the eventual shift of the port from its current location on the downtown waterfront, but was unhappy with the approach being taken by the working group.

The council will tell the group that its priorities include protecting the value of Ports of Auckland, which last year paid it a $51.1 million dividend.

It is also telling the working group it wants a transparent, objective and evidence-based approach to reviewing the future of the ports in Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Auckland Council has conducted the most detailed work so far on the future of its port.

Previous mayor Len Brown funded out of his office budget the Port Future Study, which in 2016 found the port might not outgrow its current site in 50 years, but that work should begin on identifying alternatives, in case it did.

Before the 2017 elections New Zealand First advocated an early shift of the vehicle-import trade from Auckland to Northland’s port.

The coalition government including New Zealand First took a bigger picture approach, setting up the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group, in line with a request from Auckland Council.

New Zealand First MP and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones who oversees the working group, has since been vocal on matters relating to the future of Auckland’s port.

At the start of November Jones said he would do all he could to head-off a planned multi-storey carpark building planned by Ports of Auckland, to house vehicles arriving in the port.

“Public statements have created the impression of pre-determination,” said the council in a letter to the chair of the working group Wayne Brown.

Brown has made public comment favouring a move to Northland, including an opinion column published in November 2017 before being appointed to chair the group.

“Imagine the Auckland waterfront without used cars getting the best views,” Brown wrote.

“Watch for self-justifying job-saving promises from Ports of Auckland to fend off any sensible moves like Sydney has made keeping the harbour just for cruise liners and sending cargo to Wollongong and Newcastle.”

The council’s letter pointed to comments by Brown.

“Indicating a strong preference for relocation of some or all of POAL activities to Northport prior to any analysis is unhelpful,” said the letter which Goff will sign.

“Any plans to move all or some of the Port’s functions requires the concurrence of its owners, the people of Auckland, through Auckland Council,” said the letter.

“I’ve already said to the chair, we’ve put a lot of work into two future options (Manukau Harbour and Firth of Thames) and you’ve dismissed this out of hand, which gives us no confidence,” Goff told today’s planning committee meeting.

The council has spelled out 10 areas it wants the working group to examine closely.

These include the feasible capacity of all upper North Island ports, as well as the climate change impacts of moving freight to and from the ports.

It wanted work done on the social and community impacts of any change, and how and when a future new port would be funded.

The council will have its first meeting with the government’s working group on December 13.

 

How Will Ships Help Save the Environment?

The search for zero emissions is at the forefront of the maritime industry development. The regulations on the horizon, limiting the sulphur content in marine fuel, are only the first step in making shipping green. Stricter rules and initiatives will continue going forward, and there are already ways to prepare for a clean and environmentally friendly maritime future. One of them is hydrogen fuel cells that could revolutionise the way vessels are powered.

Companies are already looking into the possibility of fuel-cell technology for ships. A maritime research group Sintef Ocean and the pioneering technology group ABB are collaborating to examine ways fuel cells could power full-sized vessels. The scientists believe that this technology could become competitive with fossil fuels, even when it comes to big vessels. Right now the process is still in the experimentation stage, testing diesel, battery and fuel cell combinations under different loads on a vessel simulator.

As of yet, it is unclear when the research portion of the process will yield tangible results. However, fuel cells have already proven its usefulness in busses, trains, trucks and are receiving significant investments in the automotive industry, paving the way for marine applications. According to ABB, this technology could have an extensive reach in the maritime sector within three to five years after the implementation of the first systems.

Already the industry is moving forward with the idea. Japan’s NYK Group has recently unveiled a new concept ship, the NYK Super Eco Ship 2050. It is designed to be powered by solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells produced from renewable energy sources.

Further along in development, a hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger ferry is being built in the San Francisco Bay Area and is expected to be operational by the end of 2019. The vessel named the Water-Go-Round could possibly become the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell ferry. It will be 70 feet long and able to carry 84 passengers at the speed of 22 knots. Competing for the ‘first of its kind’ title is the HySeas III vessel under construction in Scotland by Ferguson Marine. However, the European vessel is expected to launch only in 2021, but with construction delays in the US or streamlined processes in the UK – both ferries could hit the waters at the same time. At this point, it’s too early to tell which one will become the world’s first.

In any case, the zero-emission maritime future is coming closer with the rapid development of fuel-cell technology. This power source could completely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and provide considerable advantages to the environment.

Could hydrogen fuel cells become the preferred source for marine propulsion in the future? Ask shipowners, maritime experts and high-level shipping professionals at the 2nd Green Maritime Forum in Hamburg on 2-3 April 2019. The event will have presentations, panel discussions, a focus exhibition and networking breaks where you will have direct access to key industry innovators and leading decision-makers
Source: Wisdom Events

Automation and capacity update from Ports of Auckland

22 November 2018

Operational Update

Automation and Capacity Project – Update

Our project to transform Fergusson Terminal which will provide future capacity is well underway and visitors to the port will have seen a lot of activity and changes including civil works, construction workers and sections of tarmac undergoing renewal.  What has been happening recently:

A-Strads

Visitors will have seen the new blue “A Strads” now assembled on the north end of the terminal, undergoing a comprehensive range of testing in readiness for Go-Live next year.

 

 

 

 

Road Exchange

The work to upgrade the truck lanes has been completed and the next stage is installing the gates and fences required to keep truck drivers and A Strads separated.

Pre-gate Kiosk Screens

These have been updated. Drivers now need to complete some additional steps at the kiosk.  This means that when automation goes live, the drivers will already be familiar with the new system.

Reefer Gantries

The large shiny frames of the new reefer gantries at the southern end of the Fergusson terminal are now complete and sign-off for the reefer operation is expected before the end of this year.  In the meantime, we have been able to use the area as valuable stacking space for dry containers.

New Container Cranes

There was a lot of media interest and celebration with the arrival of our three new container cranes on the specialised delivery vessel Zhen Hua 25.

It was a great sight to see them sail into the harbour in the early morning. These cranes, which have quad-lift capacity (they can lift four containers at once), are now in place on Fergusson North Berth and will be commissioned early 2019, after a range of testing required to integrate them into our current systems.

 

Hatch Platforms have now been installed on all container cranes – these allow the ship’s hatch covers to be stored above the ground, freeing up space around the cranes for container handling.

Lash Platforms In a first for New Zealand, we’re installing lash platforms on all our cranes and our new cranes have them already fitted.  This will make stevedores’ job safer, as they can work above ground away from moving straddles.

Rail OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

A frame, fitted with multiple cameras, has been placed over the rail line to capture images and recognise container numbers arriving and leaving by rail. This system provides a high degree of accuracy and enables rail planners to quickly check on any “exceptions”.

Supply Chain Challenges

There are a range of challenges being experienced throughout the supply chain. We are automating Fergusson Terminal to increase capacity and productivity, whilst at the same time experiencing unprecedented volume demand. It is a bit like having heart surgery while playing rugby!

While we’re carrying out the automation work our terminal capacity is actually reduced, putting pressure on our operations especially during peak import season.

We are undertaking this transformation to ensure we are ready to accommodate Auckland’s rapid growth in freight demand.  We’ll be able to handle more containers on the same land, but it also means some changes in the way cargo owners and trucking companies interact with the port.

Greater planning and different ways of operating are needed throughout the freight supply chain. The port operates 24/7 and yet the wider supply chain largely works 24/5 at best, and often 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

Extended operational hours are needed at distribution centres, empty depots and importers’ and exporters’ premises to maximise the capacity of the whole supply chain.  It is much the same as an internet connection – you’re currently on dial-up and want to upgrade to fibre, but you only get the best speed if you’ve got fibre end-to-end.

We have been engaging with importers, exporters, trucking companies and freight forwarders to discuss the changes and welcome you to make contact to discuss any issues you may have.

Further Progress

Our automation go-live date is late 2019.  There are a number of civil, operational, engineering and I.T. projects being undertaken, some of which need to be completed in a specific order and others are more flexible.  This means that we are continually adjusting the timing of work.  We will keep you updated on progress and changes.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss any ideas or concerns, at any stage.

For more information contact

Customer Service

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext. 1

E: customerservice@poal.co.nz

 

For VBS queries contact

Transport Co-ordinators

P: +64 9 348 5100 Ext.2

E: driversassist@poal.co.nz

 

 

Ports of Auckland have joined the Climate Leaders Coalitiona collection of business leaders who have each committed to act on climate change.

Ports of Auckland is the first port in the world to make this commitment and the first port in New Zealand to be CEMARS® certified. Joining the coalition contributes to the ports promise to become zero emissions by 2040.

More information on the Climate Leaders Coalition can be found here. Read the CEO Climate Change Statement here.

 

New Zealand needs to decarbonise transport to get on track with climate goals

The best way to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector in New Zealand is to switch to alternative fuels and decarbonise the electricity grid. Personal behaviour change will have an impact, but not enough, a new study has found.

According to the chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand Stephen Selwood, a new report from thinkstep has found that activities such as car sharing, teleworking, home deliveries and using more public transport will save around 15 per cent of carbon emission compared to the near 90 per cent reductions needed to meet climate targets.

“Many people think that enabling alternatives to the car is the best way to reduce carbon emissions in New Zealand,” Selwood said.

But thinkstep’s report calculates that a shift to electric, biofuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles has potential to reduce carbon emissions from consumption by up to 88 per cent by 2050. The Creating a positive drive: Decarbonisation of New Zealand’s transport sector by 2050 was launched on Thursday.

A shift to electric, biofuel and hydrogen-powered vehicles “has the potential to reduce carbon emissions from consumption by up to 88 per cent by 2050,” the report says.

In order to achieve this shift, renewable energy generation would have to double in capacity, and the country would have to see the conversion of five per cent of agricultural land to the production of biofuels.

Encouraging ride-sharing and the use of public transport would have benefits that are more achievable in a short space of time than a complete switch to zero emission transport, but they would only change a small proportion, up to 29 per cent, of total journeys,  the report says.

Everything helps

The government could encourage people to share rides by establishing carpool lanes, and create a pricing model to encourage electric vehicles.

Transport scenarios for New Zealand in the report for 2050 relative to 2015 (savings include domestic greenhouse gas emissions only)

“The role of government and business, as we see it, is to make these low-carbon choices easy and convenient,” says the report.

“While we still depend on fossil fuels, ride-sharing has the potential to be a quick win for New Zealand on climate change,” Dr Jeff Vickers, technical director of thinkstep and lead author of the report said.

“It reduces carbon emissions and road congestion immediately, and the carbon story gets even better as we move to electric vehicles. This is something that could happen virtually overnight, as all you need is a smartphone.”

A year ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set out a plan for New Zealand to transition its electricity grid to renewables by 2035. Between 50 to 60 per cent is already delivered by hydroelectric power. Ms Ardern’s long-term goal is for New Zealand to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Currently, according to climate action tracker website, New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution target under the Paris Agreement of a 30 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 is rated as “insufficient”. In other words, it is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C, as required, and is instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C.

Part of the reason is that transport contributed 19 per cent of all greenhouse gases emitted in New Zealand in 2015. A reduction in transport emissions by 90 per cent would reduce New Zealand’s total gross GHG emissions by 17 per cent.

But the road to decarbonising transport is harder than that. “When considering the carbon footprint of products and services that New Zealanders consume – rather than including those that are destined for offshore markets – transport’s contribution jumps to over 40 per cent,” Dr Vickers said.

The government is currently considering a Zero Carbon Bill. The target of net zero emissions by 2050 is supported by 91 per cent of respondents to a consultation for the bill, while even more, 96 per cent, support the establishment of an independent watchdog, a Climate Change Commission, like the UK’s.

The government realises that it’s cheaper to take action sooner rather than later.

Light commercial and heavy vehicles are assumed in the report to run on hydrogen in the future, yielding a 64 per cent drop in emissions using today’s electricity grid, or 91 per cent for a fully renewable grid.

In this future, biofuels would be used to power ships and planes because of their higher energy density. But biofuels have their own social and environmental impacts: air pollution, displacing crops, and a reduction of biodiversity.

See the full report here.

8 November

National MPs from all over the country have lined up at Parliament this morning to submit ‘save the highways’ petitions signed by thousands of their constituents.

National MP Amy Adams announces she will stand for National Party leader.

Selwyn MP Amy Adams said more than 1000 people signed her petition for the State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton to go ahead. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

They are concerned that major roading projects National announced are being canned by this government in favour of more public transport options or “minimal” safety upgrades of existing roads.

Examples include the Auckland east-west link, the Napier to Hastings expressway and the construction of a four-lane state highway one link between Christchurch and Ashburton.

MPs for the electorates north of Auckland hope to save the ‘four-lanes to Whangarei’ project, with Rodney MP Mark Mitchell saying the uncertainty was having a huge impact on people’s well-being.

“The cancellation of these projects not only reduces road safety, do not only take away the economic opportunities they would create, but it’s also creating a lot of stress.

“There’s a human toll to the people who actually live on these designated routes and have a lot of uncertainty created from very poor decisions, I feel, at central government level,” Mr Mitchell said.

An image of the completed East West roading project.

The proposed east-west motorway link in Auckland was scrapped by the government last year. Graphic: Supplied / NZTA

Eight petitions have been delivered, with thousands of signatures from the MPs constituents.

Amy Adams, the MP for Selwyn, said the State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton must go ahead.

“The volume of traffic on those roads is making them not only more dangerous, but more and more congested, obviously effecting productivity,” she said.

Ms Adams said she had more than a thousand people sign up in a short time.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson submitted on the Katikati to Tauranga four-lane link, which it announced in 2017 and said Labour must commit to.

They want a grade separated connection from Omokoroa onto State Highway 2 and a Katikati bypass.

Few questions were asked by the government MPs who sit on the transport committee, however National MP Paul Goldsmith asked a number of questions about the impact of the regional fuel tax on the MPs’ communities.

He said there was little thought for people outside of Auckland who would never benefit from the expensive public transport projects the government was funding in the city.

Shippers worried low pollution fuel could carry high price tag

Cleaning up smokey funnels could could land New Zealand shippers with much higher fuel bills as the Government inches towards cutting pollution levels.

The Ministry of Transport will shortly begin public consultation on whether to ratify Annex VI of an international maritime convention (MARPOL) which makes use of lower sulphur level fuel mandatory from 2020.

Shipping line Maersk​ converted to using the cleaner burning fuel in New Zealand waters in 2011, but switched back after its fuel bill soared by $1m during the one year trial, forcing the company to turn down a nomination for a Clean Air Society achievement award.

Maersk makes about 1000 New Zealand port visits a year and its oceania operations manager Stuart Jennings said the more expensive fuel cut sulphur levels in exhaust gases by more than 80 per cent, but the company regrettably suspended the pilot due to lack of support from other local industry stakeholders.

“We believe that a strong enforcement regime is crucial to ensure a level playing field for carriers as well as shippers, and to make sure that health and environmental benefits are continuously maximised.”

Maersk shipping line cut sulphur emissions at the Port of Auckland by 72 tonnes a year after it switched to a cleaner fuel, but the change proved too expensive and was abandoned after other shippers failed to follow suit.
SUPPLIED
Maersk shipping line cut sulphur emissions at the Port of Auckland by 72 tonnes a year after it switched to a cleaner fuel, but the change proved too expensive and was abandoned after other shippers failed to follow suit.

Jennings said that from 2020 all vessels in its global fleet would comply with the Annex VI requirement to reduce maximum sulphur levels from 3.5  per cent to 0.5 per cent, regardless of whether New Zealand had ratified the clause.

Atmospheric scientist Jennifer Barclay​ nominated Maersk for the clean air award and said the company’s switch to cleaner burning diesel reduced the amount of sulphur released into Auckland skies by 72 tonnes a year.

It was disappointing other shippers had not followed suit, but she understood Maersk’s reversal. “It’s not their fault, central government needs to pull finger and do something.”

Ministry of Transport international connections manager Tom Forster said the Resource Management Act allowed for discharges into air for normal ship operations, and New Zealand had not previously signed up to Annex VI “because our weather conditions and comparatively small ship numbers meant maritime air pollution was not seen as a significant issue.”

He said domestic legislation would need to be changed if ratification was agreed on once consultation was completed.

Members of the NZ Shipping Federation, including the InterIslander, are anxious to know where they stand over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Members of the NZ Shipping Federation, including the InterIslander, are anxious to know where they stand over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.

NZ Shipping Federation executive director Annabel Young said she expected New Zealand to ratify the clean fuel clause by 2023, but 98 per cent of shipping capacity worldwide had already done so. “We are the outlier.”

Her members, who include the InterIslander, Strait Shipping and Coastal Bulk Shipping, were anxious to know where they stood over the supply and cost of low sulphur fuel.

Diesel was the only fuel in New Zealand that met the specified sulphur content, but cost up to 50 per cent more than what many vessels currently used, and it was unclear whether the Marsden Point refinery would retool to produce low sulphur marine fuel, said Young.

A Refining New Zealand spokesman said they were still investigating options for the refinery to make 0.5% sulphur fuel oil.

“That process will give a good indication of the production costs involved, and quantities we can make on behalf of our oil company customers.”

Young said another complication was that a recent amendment to Annex VI prevented ships entering the ports of more than 80 signatory-countries from carrying dirtier-burning heavy fuels.

That meant New Zealand coastal ships, such as the interisland ferries, would have to switch fuel before entering dry docks in Australia or Singapore, and it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars

“Switching fuels takes months, it’s not something you do lightly …going to dry dock will be a very expensive transition.”

Young said that methanol was a clean fuel option that more shippers were seriously considering, but there were questions about the security of supply once the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill passed.

However, a Methanex New Zealand representative said that would not be an issue. “If the shipping industry used methanol we’d be guaranteeing supply.”

Stuff

Government scraps plan for KiwiRail diesel trains

The Government has honoured a campaign pledge to keep electric trains running and has committed an extra $35 million to refurbish them.

Fifteen electric trains currently operating between Hamilton and Palmerston North will be refurbished under state-owned KiwiRail – a move welcomed by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

“We’re thrilled to see the Labour-led government protecting Kiwi jobs,” said Rail and Maritime Transport Union general-secretary Wayne Butson.

“Union members, environmental campaigners and industry experts have all spoken out about the importance of investing in electric rail, and we clearly have a government that listens to the people.”

If KiwiRail had been permitted to proceed with National’s plans to replace the EF Class electric locomotives with DL class diesel engines imported from China, the union says it would have added an extra 12,000 tonnes to New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

The plans to switch from electric trains to diesel under KiwiRail between Hamilton and Palmerston North were announced in 2016. But an external review by engineering consultants Worley Parsons warned that diesel trains purchased from China have “a very high failure rate”.

Studies also suggested that the DL locomotives are often unreliable, overly expensive and at risk of asbestos contamination. The Worley Parsons review said KiwiRail should be switching its whole fleet to electric.

The switch to diesel would be 25 percent cheaper to run. And KiwiRail said at the time the move would reduce its carbon footprint because fewer trucks would be needed to move loads, despite diesel emitting five times more greenhouse gases than the current fleet.

Green Party Associate Minister for Transport Julie-Anne Genter, who was transport spokesperson at the time, said it was “shocking” that KiwiRail would choose the diesel options. She called on then-Transport Minister Simon Bridges to halt the plan.

In a letter to KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy in August last year, Labour’s transport spokesperson at the time, Michael Wood, confirmed that if Labour was elected, it would “require a halt on any work to de-electrify the [train] network”.

He said Labour would “work with KiwiRail to develop an evidence-based, long term plan to guide capital investment in the rail network,” adding, “We will consider options to expand electrification as part of this plan.”

Mr Butson believes New Zealand must “electrify more of our rail network, not less”.

“The highly skilled workforce in KiwiRail’s workshops can now build a modern, sustainable fleet of locomotives that will be the envy of the world,” he said.

National’s transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith has been contacted for comment.

Newshub.