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SA Energy Fund’s emergency jet fuel rescues Joburg airport

NQOBILE DLUDLA

SOUTH AFRICA’S state-controlled Central Energy Fund is working on providing an additional 1.5 million litres of jet fuel for Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in the event of further supply shortages, the head of the airport operator said.

Last month an oil industry body flagged the jet fuel shortage at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, one of Africa’s busiest airports, linking it to damage from devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal province that have left thousands homeless and caused at least 10 billion rand ($633 million) of damage to infrastructure.

“While overall stock levels are stable, certain suppliers impacted by the declared force majeure are still unable to acquire the quantities of jet fuel they require,” Mpumi Mpofu, chief executive of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), told a news conference.

As a result, the Central Energy Fund will invoke available legislative measures to ensure there is energy security and “they are working on providing approximately 1.5 million litres of jet fuel in the event that the mismatch between supply and demand is not mitigated,” Mpofu added.

The initial shortage had forced two international airlines to cancel 15 flights in total, while some airlines have been forced to re-route and make stops for fuel in Durban and even in Windhoek, Namibia, a costly measure, she said.

Those airlines, which Mpofu did not want to name, have resumed flights.

As a result of these flight cancellations, ACSA lost about 1.5 million rand ($93,000) in fees it generates from passengers and hundreds of thousands of rand in lost landing fees, Mpofu said.

Approximately 140 sections of state logistics group Transnet’s freight rail lines were damaged on the route to Johannesburg during the floods in April. Out of 67 rail tanks that were en route to OR Tambo International Airport at the time, only 11 arrived, with 56 remaining behind, ACSA said in April.

Mpofu said on Monday that Transnet confirmed that the rail repairs will likely be completed in full by Oct. 30 when both rail lines will be up and running from Durban.

In the meantime, 50% of the railway line will be restored and repaired by June 9.

Shipment of an additional 20 million litres of jet fuel has arrived at the Durban Port and would be pumped to the National Petroleum Refiners South Africa (NATREF) from this evening, after which it would be piped to the Johannesburg airport.

Mpofu said the airport is currently operating on 3.5 days’ worth of available stock, compared to the average of 12.3, 11.1 and 5.2 days in January, February and March.

By The African Mirror

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