Jet Fuel Ops Room Established To Secure Supplies While TFR Repairs Flood-Damaged Rail Corridor

The Airports Company of SA (ACSA) has established an operations centre to help stabilise jet fuel supplies at OR Tambo International Airport in the wake of April's floods that forced Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) to close sections portions of its critical Durban-Johannesburg container corridor.

This in turn has resulted in a shortage of jet fuel at SA's main airport, compelling a number of airlines to cancel flights while others resorted to "tankering" or making fuel stops en route.

"Members of the various institutions represented met at OR Tambo today to develop a plan to mitigate the perceived jet fuel crisis," ACSA said this week.

The meeting, called to ensure a stable supply of jet aviation fuel, was attended by TFR and Transnet Pipelines Transnet, the Board of Airline Representatives of SA (BARSA), the Central Energy Fund (CEF), the mineral and energy department and the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA).

"ACSA and its strategic Fuel Forum partners confirm that jet fuel supply is stable," the airport's company said.

"The issue at play is the mismatch between supply and demand. This is what the forum has agreed to remedy the situation by setting up an operations room that will meet weekly until the railway line between KZN and OR Tambo International Airport is fixed."

A number of interventions have been put in place to prevent airlines from cancelling flights and eliminating tankering and costly technical stops, ACSA said. These included amending the legislative instruments available to match demand and supply as well as instituting emergency supplement of supplies.

ACSA noted that two airlines had cancelled flights while others made tankering stops at Durban and Windhoek because of the perceived fuel shortage at OR Tambo.

"The responsibility lies within the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Central Energy Fund (CEF) to invoke available legislative instruments to ensure there is energy security and confirm that 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."

TFR said repairs would be complete by the end of October when both lines on the corridor will be open. One running line would be open from June 9, TFR said, meaning the route would be operating at 50% capacity.

Meanwhile, a consignment of jet fuel arrived at the Durban port by ship and was due to be pumped into the National Petroleum Refiners South Africa (NATREF) refinery on Monday.

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