Jet fuel crisis at OR Tambo averted

Friday, August 14, 2009

Johannesburg - The jet fuel crisis at OR Tambo International Airport has been resolved.

The airport was hit by fuel shortages last week, when its fuel stocks fell below that of the acceptable benchmark of five-day's supply to two-days. This had prompted authorities to ask airlines to cut back on their fuel intake until stock levels were improved.

In a statement, the Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, said the end to the crisis had come as a result of a meeting with Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) and Transnet to assess the situation last Friday.

"I am pleased that the industry has responded with the necessary vigour and that the stock level has now reached more than six days. This is a victory for our country. ACSA will now be in a position to relax the restrictions it had imposed at the airport," said Ms Peters.

However, she warned that she would continue to keep an eye on the situation.

"The reports we have received from OR Tambo International Airport have indicated that additional jet fuel has now been delivered from coastal refineries and will be added to the current usable stock levels. 

"This, therefore, means that we have now reached the standard that is applicable to airports of the size of OR Tambo," the minister added.

During the emergency meeting last week, the minister set up a task team chaired by the Acting Director General of Energy, Nelisiwe Magubane to investigate "the near jet fuel stock-out at OR Tambo, and also suggested measures to be put in place to ensure that this anomaly did not happen in the future."

The department said the task team would begin its work on Monday. 

The team will include officials from the Department of Energy, the Director of SAPIA, representatives from Transnet Freight Rail and Transnet Pipelines, the General Manager of OR Tambo as well as a representative from the Airport Company of South Africa.

The team will also have an expanded mandate and ensure that the 2010 FIFA World Cup spectacle will be run smoothly. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive in the country during that period.

"They will be expected to develop a consolidated liquid fuel supply and logistics plan as well as contingency measures for high risk areas. 

"Accordingly is it crucial for the industry and my department to work off the same assumptions with regard to demand forecasts for fuel requirements going forward," Minister Peters said.