Refinery 'on top of things' for New Year

The Marsden Point oil refinery is determined that it won't be the weak link in the oil suppy chain come Y2K, depite it being something of a bottleneck. It plans to run a 24x7 operation through the new year period. 'We've been working on the Y2K issue since late 1996 and by the end of June we should be down to testing our continuity plans,' says finance manager, Garry Smith.

The Marsden Point oil refinery is determined that it won't be the weak link in the oil suppy chain come Y2K, depite it being something of a bottleneck. It plans to run a 24x7 operation through the new year period.

"We've been working on the Y2K issue since late 1996 and by the end of June we should be down to testing our continuity plans," says finance manager, Garry Smith.

Marsden Point fulfils over 70% of New Zealand's gasoline needs and provides all the country's oil-derivative products, like diesel and jet fuel. Almost a third is pumped to Wiri in South Auckland and the rest is transported by ship around the country.

Fortunately, Smith says, because they began their project early enough they are on "top of things".

Marsden Point began in early 1997 with an internal audit to determine what needed looking into. They then began contacting vendors to find out about each item's compliance and in the third quarter of 1998 they completed a risk assessment of the plant. We've done our own testing but in some cases we have accepted third party assurances, if they're reliable and have documented evidence to support their claim," says Y2K project manager David Martin.

They are now working through their business continuity planning and are about half way through an assessment of their business processes with their four parent companies (Shell, BP, Caltex and Mobil).

"Our business continuity plans will be in place by the end of May and by the end of June they will have been solidified and ready to go," says Smith.

As well as testing the plant in operation, Smith says they have had to evaluate their on-site spares as well. The plant has undergone some upgrade work over the past few years, and Smith says that has helped speed up the Y2K process and reduce costs.

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