Task team to investigate airport fuel shortage

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pretoria - Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has set up a task team to investigate what led to the shortage of jet fuel at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. 

The task team will also help ensure that South Africa will have sustainable amounts of fuel for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"We have established this task team which will be led by the acting Director General [Nelly Magubane]. They will meet weekly and provide me with monthly reports on how we can prevent a repeat of what has happened," explained Minister Peters.

The task team will come into effect immediately.

Earlier this week, media reported that the airport had been hit by fuel shortages which prompted authorities to ask airlines to cut back on their fuel intake until stock levels were improved.

This prompted the minister to hold a meeting with Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) and Transnet Minister Peters on Thursday to assess the situation.

"They briefed me on the current situation of less than acceptable stock levels. I've also expressed my concern at the state of affairs," said Ms Peters.

She said it was important for the different role players in the industry to improve their communication with each other.

OR Tambo International airport General Manager Chris Hlekani said that currently the airport had a fuel supply of 46 million litres which was sufficient for about two days, but that the situation would improve in time as the airport was acquiring more fuel. 

The airport is usually expected to have a five-day supply.

"We are adding additional storage of about 12 million litres which will help the value chain in terms of storage supply," he explained. This storage is expected to be available just before March 2010.

Acting Group Chief Executive Officer of Transnet Chris Wells said Transnet had experienced some rail operational distractions, but these had been resolved.

"We transport five trains of jet fuel a week. We are looking to increasing supply to six trains a week. The security of fuel supply is of paramount importance," said Mr Wells.

Sapia's executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said that Sapia would give the task team its full support.

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