New Zealand-Natural gas leak-Not as bad as earlier believed
The disruption caused by the Maui pipeline leak looks set to cost businesses millions and throw affected companies headlong into time-consuming insurance negotiations.
And some firms are already saying they may seek compensation for their losses from whoever is responsible for the situation.
Bruce Loader, a Christchurch-based partner with business advisory firm Ernst & Young, said a key issue for many companies would be whether their business interruption insurance covered them or not.
Many policies have what is called a loss of public utility (such as gas) extension. "That extension will cover the company for lost revenue and extra costs, but often to very low limits," Loader said.
He said that if a company had a policy which gave them $1 million in business interruption cover, the limit for the loss of public utilities extension might only be 5 or 10 per cent of the total cover.
Pipeline manager Vector was last night working to fix the gas leak, located in the remote Whitecliffs area north of New Plymouth.
Around 2500 businesses, including most major gas users in the upper North Island, are expected to be affected until the pipeline is fixed.
The facilities of many major food manufacturers - including Birkenhead's Chelsea sugar refinery, Mt Wellington's Tip Top icecream factory and Goodman Fielder bakeries - were out of action yesterday as a result of the leak.
"It is a significant outage because the bulk of New Zealand's food production is in the Auckland area," Food & Grocery council chief executive Katherine Rich said.