While there is still some diesel available, Chatham Islanders are in urgent need of more fuel (file image). Photo: RNZ/Matt "Big Tuna" Theunissen

Petrol Dries Up, Diesel Next: Chatham Islands’ Fuel Crisis Worsens

While there is still some diesel available, Chatham Islanders are in urgent need of more fuel (file image). Photo / RNZ / Matt “Big Tuna” Theunissen

The Chatham Islands have run out of petrol and its diesel supplies are running low after bad weather forced a barge to turn around.

Chatham Islands mayor Monique Croon said the island had been out of petrol for about a month and out of LPG cooking gas for the last three weeks or so.

“All these things are sitting on the barge currently in Auckland, unfortunately.”

While there was still some diesel available, Chatham Islanders were in urgent need of more fuel.

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A barge organised to bring fuel from Auckland was originally scheduled to leave in early June but it was delayed. It set off on Tuesday night for the five-day journey to the Chathams.

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A barge with fuel on it was turned around in bad weather (file photo). Photo: 123rf

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“It’s been tracked by the whole island and when we saw it turn around we thought, ‘oh no’.

“The master does not want to come to the island with the current forecast we have so it looks like it is indefinitely delayed.”

She said it was “all hands on deck” and staff would be working through the weekend, looking at other vessel options to get fuel to the island as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the council planned to check in with the community to make sure they had the essentials to keep themselves warm and fed.

Just over 600 people live on the Chatham Islands, according to the 2023 Census.

The Chatham Islands shipping company’s vessel Southern Tiare has also been in Auckland since March for its annual survey and repair work, which was taking longer than expected.

“The other problem is that many farmers haven’t had an income since March because of the delay of the Tiare so things are pretty grim for many in the community.

“We are going to set up a team here to work with community wellbeing and welfare and do some contingency planning around the possibility of running out of diesel fuel for generators.”

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Croon said it looked like they would be able to get a vessel to the island with fuel before that happened, but she could not say how long it would be before the diesel ran out.

The Southern Tiare is currently doing sea trials and is due to leave Auckland and return to the Chathams in early July.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport is chairing a working group to develop options for a shipping service that meets the long-term needs of the Chatham Islands community, the council says.

The group is made up of members from the Ministry of Transport, Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry for Primary Industries, Chatham Islands Council, Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust, and Chatham Islands Shipping.

-RNZ

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