Continue aviation fuel supply, PNG court tells fuel supplier Puma Energy 

PHOTO: Puma Energy

Papua New Guinea National Court has ordered Puma Energy to continue supplying aviation fuel to Air Niugini until 27 February as per their agreement, describing the fuel supply issue as of national importance. 

Judge John Carey extended the order handed down on 26 January by Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, which restrained Puma Energy from implementing any temporary restriction or reducing fuel supply to Air Niugini below the levels under the agreement the two companies signed in June, 2021. 

Puma Energy had announced on Monday that there was no fuel supply until further notice. It has been struggling to satisfy the fuel market for the past year, blaming the lack of foreign exchange to pay for the importing of petroleum. 

On 01 February, Judge Carey ordered that Air Niugini and Puma go for a mediation through an accredited external mediator within 15 days. 

But it was still on going after the time lapsed. 

Judge Carey told the court in Waigani that there had been delay tactics by the parties to carry out the mediation orders. 

“The court does not accept the material change of circumstances as there were delay tactics applied, and it is to delay or defeat justice during the mediation process which is not good,” he said. 

Judge Carey said the fuel issue was of national importance and should be addressed by the court properly as it dealt with the country’s economy. 

“The 26 January orders restraining Puma is extended pending the outcome of the mediation, as the court has to be careful and precise with what this is about as we are dealing with the economy at large,” he said. 

Air Niugini lawyer Wilson Mininga from Bradshaw Lawyers said Puma’s lawyer had asked the court to extend the court orders of 26 January as the mediation on the fuel issue was continuing. 

“Aviation fuel is an essential service to the airline company and I would ask the court to give an extension as the mediation was still going on,” he said. 

Puma Energy’s lawyer Jeanale Nigs from Denton Lawyers told the court that Puma had 400,000 litres of aviation fuel reserved for emergency purposes only. 

On 26 January, Sir Gibbs ordered Puma to continue supplying aviation fuel to Air Niugini in accordance with the terms of the agreement. 

The order also directed Puma to provide Air Niugini with regular updates on the status of its efforts to mitigate the impact of the closure of its accounts with Bank South Pacific Financial Group Limited, and resume full supply under the agreements.