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First trip...Oil tanker Laperouse leaves PrimePort Timaru for Noumea last Friday after its first shipment to the new Timaru terminal. PHOTO:CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

A lot of interest has been shown around the South Island in Timaru Oil Services’ new $40million terminal which received its first fuel shipment last week, according to its owner.

“The coming months will now show how this interest translates concretely,” the company’s managing director Philippe Dubau said.

The Commerce Commission said the new import terminal had the potential to bring lower fuel prices to South Island drivers, “if it can secure supply agreements with existing resellers”.

AA Petrolwatch spokesman Mark Stockdale said because the terminal was not owned by any of the major fuel companies, he expected competition for the supply of fuel in the South Island would increase.

Mark Stockdale

“This could help drive wholesale prices down in the South Island, which could flow through to lower pump prices.

“In addition, it will mean independent brands like Gull will be able to source fuel at viable prices in the South Island without going to the expense of building their own terminal, giving them confidence to establish a South Island network.”

He said Gull had already started operating in the South Island and with the new terminal would be able to bring its lower-priced “no frills” brand to more locations, helping to drive down prices and give southern motorists more choice.

The oil tanker Laperouse arrived in Timaru last Wednesday from refineries in South Korea to discharge roughly 20,000 tonnes of diesel and unleaded petrol. The ship left for Noumea on Friday.

“The first discharge is a very special moment in the life of a terminal and has been a great success,” Mr Dubau said.

The fuel was channelled through a 1250m underground pipeline from Charman St wharf to Timaru Oil Services’ Fraser St site, where it has built four tanks capable of holding 32million litres of oil. Two further six-million litre tanks will be be built at a later date.

Open for business…The new oil terminal will start deliveries early next month. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

“We are very proud of all the teams involved, engineering, construction, suppliers, operations,” Mr Dubau said.

“More than 60 Kiwi firms have been involved directly for the success of this project which is the first new terminal to the latest standards in New Zealand probably since Gull in the ’90s.”

Mr Dubau said the terminal would go through two to three weeks of meterproofing and commissioning of IT sub-systems before starting commercial operations.

Up to 10 people were employed at the terminal which traded under the name Tasman Fuels. It would be able to supply fuel as far north as Kaikoura and south to Bluff and Central Otago.

Truck deliveries would start early next month.

“Operations will ramp up slowly,” Mr Dubau said. “You can expect a ship per month.”

Timaru Oil Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Tahiti company Pacific Petroleum, has proposed building another terminal at the Port of Tauranga.

“The consenting process is under way. There are currently talks with the marae which is next to the industrial zone of the Port of Tauranga.

“We discovered that there is a complex history there that goes well beyond our project and involves activities of other industries for which the whanau have concerns.”