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ACSA responds to media reports of jet fuel shortages

ACSA is in constant engagement with all parties including fuel suppliers and airlines to mitigate a potential crisis.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has confirmed that it aware and has noted several recent media reports indicating an impending fuel shortage at some of its airports.

Jabulani Khambule, ACSA regional general manager at  OR Tambo International Airport said ACSA was requested to assist on the matter on behalf of South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) with respect to ongoing engagements between SAPIA, the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and individual petroleum companies to resolve a tax dispute relating to the use of the multi-product pipeline from Durban to Johannesburg, and related storage facilities.

Concerned about the negative impact of the fuel shortage on its airport operations, ACSA has been part of deliberations with these parties.

Khambule said that the problem can be best summarised as follows, “the inland refinery, which is also the main source of jet fuel into OR Tambo International Airport is preparing for its planned temporary shutdown sometime between May and June this year, leading to a greater reliance on imported fuel from Durban.”

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“These eventualities have been anticipated and jet fuel supply will continue, making use of the said alternative routes,” said Khambule.

He said this planned shutdown unfortunately coincides with the challenges posed by the SARS impasse with the parties.

This, he said, is the reason for the potential crisis in jet fuel supply and ACSA, SARS, SAPIA have been discussing and are finalising the implementation of the contingency plans to avert this situation.

“While the overall fuel stock levels at OR Tambo International Airport recently dipped below the recommended five days’ cover due to the refinery preparing for the shutdown.

“The five-day stock holding of fuel provides a buffer to deal with any unforeseen short-term interruptions that may occur in the jet fuel supply chain.”

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He added that at this stage, ACSA was communicating with all parties.

“We are attempting to resolve these matters and request patience from stakeholders until we receive firm feedback from SARS, SAPIA and the petroleum companies on the resolution of this matter.

“ACSA would like to emphasise once again that the responsibility to keep adequate stocks of jet fuel to meet the demands of airlines lies with the fuel suppliers and SAPIA using ACSA’s infrastructure.”

“Airlines forecast their demand accurately and make arrangements to supply this demand and enter into contracts with fuel suppliers. SAPIA and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy have a responsibility to ensure continuity and security of supply.”

Khambule said as a result some suppliers have indicated to their airline customers that due to above matter, there will be a reduction in their supply and airlines are taking operational decisions to plan for this impact on their services.

“ACSA is in constant engagement with SARS, SAPIA, fuel suppliers and the airlines directly to obtain up-to-date information on the actions they are taking to deal and mitigate this potential crisis,” he added.

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