Puma stops fuel supply in PNG, PM searches Australia for fuel

PHOTO: Puma Energy

Puma stops fuel supply in PNG

PNG’s fuel dilemma is far from over. 

Service stations are shutting down while Jet A1 that keeps planes flying might finish today, says the country’s major fuel supplier Puma Energy PNG

Puma, which has had forex issues with the Central Bank for the past couple of years, said the government immediately needs to set up a taskforce to look at options to minimise the impact of fuel supply disruptions in the country. 

Air Niugini, the country’s national airline, might stop flying by the end of this week when its remaining supply of Jet A1 is exhausted. 

The country is currently experiencing a fuel supply issue as its biggest supplier, Puma, has already stopped its supply to the market. 

Puma’s decision to reduce the size of its operations and fuel supply proportionate to the capacity of its remaining banking channels was announced last week and came after extensive engagement with various government stakeholders, including the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) to find a long-term and sustainable banking solution. 

Despite other market suppliers such as Mobil and Total trying to fill the void, the impacts can be clearly seen as the travelling public both land and air face the brunt of the issue. 

Over the weekend, Air Niugini flights were delayed, both domestic and international with the airline blaming bad weather for the delays. 

However, Puma released a statement assuring the public that it has sourced additional Jet A1 fuel needed to keep Air Niugini flying, which might indicate otherwise as to Air Niugini’s reasons. 

A concerned passenger from Brisbane to Port Moresby confirmed the turmoil for international passengers at Brisbane Airport. 

Speaking to the Post-Courier, she said her flight back to Port Moresby was originally scheduled for 1pm Monday, but was further delayed to 5pm. 

She said no proper explanation was given to passengers, with the only indication of departure time being on the screens around the airport. 

She said Air Niugini staff on site were also confused as to what was going on. 

Puma has indicated that: “Unfortunately, due to the court order forcing Puma Energy to maintain maximum supply of jet fuel to Air Niugini, our existing supply has depleted significantly quicker than would have been expected had we been able to ration our remaining stocks until replacement supplies were secured. 

“We believe that despite our efforts to preserve limited stock, Puma Energy will have no further jet fuel available in Port Moresby from as early as today – until such time as the replacement cargo purchased by Air Niugini arrives.” 

Air Niugini has been presented with a number of mitigating options to maintain their flight schedule, including utilising jet fuel available in airports outside of Port Moresby. 

Last week, a concerned Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rio Fiocco warned that the country will ‘shut down’ if there is no supply of fuel. 

Fiocco warned that power, land transport and air travel are in danger of collapse as Puma Energy puts a stop to its supply until further notice. 

He said that the country will shut down if there is no supply of fuel. 

“It’s a major concern to everyone,” Mr Fiocco said. “Most of the country will shut down if no fuel for airlines, generators, cars and trucks.” 

A number of Puma fuel service stations closed as of Monday.

PNG PM searches Australia for fuel

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says the Government is looking at an alternative fuel supplier from Australia to address the country’s ongoing fuel crisis. 

“Alternate fuel supply has been discussed including nearby Australia which has been informed if we need emergency fuel supply,” he said. 

Marape said Australia had indicated that they could provide an emergency supply. 

“(But) the only biggest obstacle is the storage facility of fuel especially jet fuel. We are looking at that,” Marape said. 

Puma Energy last week started reducing its operations and fuel supply proportionate to the capacity of its remaining banking channels. 

It came after discussions with the Bank of Papua New Guinea to find a long-term and sustainable banking solution. 

Marape said: “We can’t strictly blame Puma. They have an issue on consistency of long-term forex supply. We are working with Kina Bank on continuity of holding Puma’s account. 

“Central Bank has been discussing how we can maintain supply forex to Puma. But the Government is not short of options to look elsewhere. We are looking at how we should use facilities in the country.” 

Meanwhile, businessman Sir Mahesh Patel said the fuel crisis, especially the lack of aviation fuel, was a disaster for the economy. 

“We have had so many disruptions, and this is just adding to our headaches of doing business,” he said. 

“Over the last 12 months or so, it has really impacted our domestic travel for business, unproductive time waiting for flights etc,” he said.