expected by month-end as Sol and
Chevron address supply issues
BAY, St. Maarten -
met on January 5 with Sol and Chevron as well as other stakeholders to discuss the
current shortage of aviation fuel experienced in St. Maarten. Several measures
are being taken to mitigate the current effects and better secure PJIA’s
operations in the future.
these measures is a planned relocation of the fuel farm at PJIA, which
will commence during the second quarter of this year, while a Service
Level Agreement that includes performance standards will be put in place
with all PJIA suppliers, including those who supply aviation fuel.
PJIA’s fuel farm to an offsite location will result in increased storage
capacity for fuel and will also free up valuable ramp space.
Similarly, Sol has
filed the required documents with the respective government authorities to
enable it to commence construction of an additional storage tank that would
double its storage capacity to a combined 25,000 barrels.
is indeed a major factor in the current fuel shortage. Once approval
is received, the construction of the new tank is expected to take some
six months. This means, before this year ends, the situation at PJIA
with regards to aviation fuel would have improved dramatically.
the meantime, Sol expects relief
of the current fuel shortage by the end
of January. During the meeting with PJIAE, General Manager, Sol Aviation
Services Ltd. (SASL), Andrew Niles, said the company is working hard
to ensure that St. Maarten does not completely run out of fuel. The
company gives special consideration to “feeder locations” like St.
Maarten, given the island’s hub function.
short-term solution being considered by Sol is to switch from Jet A1 fuel
to Jet A specification fuel, which can be sourced more readily at other
suppliers. This specification change would allow Sol to purchase fuel
from additional suppliers rather than being limited to its main supplier
of Jet A1 fuel, Petrotrin of Trinidad and Tobago.
primary difference between Jet A specification and Jet A1 is the freezing
point, which Sol confirmed will not affect its clients.
last week’s tanker brought Jet A1 fuel from Curacao, Niles noted, however,
that Curacao is not as dependable a source for this type of fuel as
Trinidad and Tobago.
Sol general manager further explained why his company has not considered
acquiring fuel from the US or Venezuela, given the acute shortage it is facing.
immediately available, it was noted that deliveries from the US would
take longer than direct deliveries from Trinidad and Tobago or Curacao due
to “transit times” and “tanker size.” Niles noted that Venezuela
does not produce Jet A1 fuel.
Niles confirmed that
Sol is in direct contact with the head offices of the various airlines
that service PJIA to update them on the daily fuel allotments for their
aircrafts. However, Sol will also now provide daily communiqués to
PJIA and St. Maarten handlers for both commercial airlines and General
are doing our best to manage the situation,” said Andrew Niles, adding:
“We could only operate with what we have.”
General Aviation (GA) sector is the most hit by the current fuel shortage. Sol
noted it is easier to manage commercial carriers as their schedules and
requirements are fixed, whereas with General Aviation this is not the case.
However, the pending
deliveries and recertification of the fuel should alleviate some of the
restrictions and result in possible relaxation this week.
GA fuel situation is a bit more complicated,” admitted Niles, “as
some use brokers for their fuel purchases. Additionally, unlike Commercial
flights, we do not have a clear picture of the fuel requirements for
GA, as they operate and require fuel on ‘as needed’ basis.”
Thursday’s meeting, however, Sol agreed to look into further “relaxing”
the current restrictions, especially on General Aviation. Commercial
Aviation has already been moved up from 50% to 75%. Nevertheless, the
fuel rationing for General Aviation may continue a little longer.
on the matter, PJIA managing director, Regina LaBega said, “the situation
is really unfortunate, but it has our undivided attention.”
are working with our stakeholders, to share strategies that would enable
us to spot potential problems in time so that we can respond in an effective,
dynamic and informed manner,” LaBega said. “The idea is to find
permanent solutions for this issue.”