The adage of spending a penny to make a pound may be relevant for Refining New Zealand Ltd (NZX: NZR) as it begins its biggest planned maintenance shut-down for more than a decade, estimated to cost about $85 million.
Radio New Zealand reported that this shut-down, would be a boost for the Northland economy, with most of the capital spend going into wages, contracting equipment and accommodation.
While the Marsden Point refinery shuts down parts of its plant every year for safety checks, cleaning and maintenance work but this time the entire refinery would shut down for 10 days.
Radio NZ said 2,000 tonnes of scaffolding had been installed; the workforce had almost doubled to nearly a thousand and would swell to nearly 1,300 at the peak of the shut-down.
“Certainly this is bringing a lot of work to Whangarei; I think we've booked out every motel and hotel and with catering it's a very good boost to the local economy,” said Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post.
He said refinery neighbours could expect heavy traffic on the Marsden Point road over the month, and some flaring this week to allow hydrocarbons to be vented safely.
“It'll be uncannily silent, but regrettably there will be some significant flaring as we take the hydrocracker down,” he said.
Post said flaring was necessary for safety reasons as you need to release pressure in the system as each unit shuts down, to make sure you don't get a huge overload.
The shutdown had been scheduled into agreements with the refinery's oil company customers and would not affect fuel supplies around the country.