Jet fuel crunch: Supplies set to ease soon as shipment arrives in Durban port

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Mbalula acknowledges that some airlines are currently having to refuel at other airports such as King Shaka International Airport, due to the crunch at OR Tambo.
Mbalula acknowledges that some airlines are currently having to refuel at other airports such as King Shaka International Airport, due to the crunch at OR Tambo.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Attempts to resolve the jet fuel supply challenge for some suppliers at OR International Airport escalated to ministerial level. 

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe met in late April to discuss the matter, according to a statement issued by the Department of Transport on Friday.

After the meeting, Mbalula reassured the aviation sector that measures are being implemented to ensure adequate jet fuel supply at OR Tambo. This was communicated in a statement on 27 April, the department said. 

In the meantime, some international airlines whose suppliers still cannot guarantee enough jet fuel at OR Tambo International Airport currently have to detour via Durban or even Windhoek to refuel, Fin24 reported. Since late March, jet fuel supplies have been constrained at the airport.

Airports Company SA (ACSA) described overall jet fuel stock levels at OR Tambo International Airport as stable, but certain suppliers impacted by the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal still cannot get the quantities they require because of damage to railway lines. 

Fin24 also reported that a consignment of jet fuel by ship was due at the Durban port this week. According to the Department of Transport, the ship arrived on Thursday and the process to pump the fuel into the NATREF refinery is set to begin. The department says this will ensure availability of jet fuel for aircraft at OR Tambo once the quality control process is concluded.

Currently, additional quantities of fuel from the NATREF refinery are being supplied to OR Tambo International, as well as smaller quantities via rail from Mozambique. 

"The Airports Company South Africa [ACSA] has given an assurance that overall stock levels are stable, while certain suppliers impacted by the floods are still unable to get the quantities they require. ACSA has further indicated that there is also an anticipated volume of approximately 20 million litres that will come through a special pipeline consignment," states the Department of Transport.

"We are encouraged that Transnet Freight Rail is working round the clock to get a portion of their rail system between Durban and Johannesburg operational from mid-June, which will restore at least 50% of the normal rail capacity from the coast." 

Mbalula acknowledges that some airlines currently must refuel at other airports such as King Shaka International Airport, due to the crunch at OR Tambo.


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