16 May 2012 22:33 [Source: ICIS news]
CHICAGO (ICIS)--A shortage of refineries and shipping problems have caused the US Caribbean to become a net importer of jet fuel in recent years, an industry executive said on Wednesday.
In the past, the Caribbean was a net exporter of jet fuel, but challenges across the entire chain have created a shortage in supplies, said Andrew Niles of fuel supplier Sol Aviation Services. He was addressing attendees at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Aviation Fuel Forum.
According to Niles, the eastern Caribbean region relies mainly on the Petrotrin refinery in Trinidad for its supplies in a region that transports large amounts of airline passengers. He added that this refinery is not the most reliable and often has outages.
“The reality is that refineries are closed and we have a shortage of fuel,” he said.
Furthermore, Niles said there is inadequate storage in the region, thus creating another distribution issue.
Mauricio Nicholls of operating company Rubis Aviation agreed with Niles, saying there is also the challenge of restricted vessel size when entering the Caribbean.
“Because we have smaller vessels and so many restrictions on the shipping side, we have to make frequent trips to the refineries,” Nicholls said while speaking at the IATA conference. “So, when we go to the US Gulf coast to pick up product for the Caribbean, it’s a very long voyage for less supply.”
One way around this, Nicholls said, is to buy product from nearby suppliers, such as Puerto Rico, but that comes at a higher cost.
“So it’s not impossible, but it is quite expensive to secure alternate supplies,” he said.
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