Yesterday’s announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy has started generating reactions as the Chief Executive of Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) has sounded a warning to the aviation industry about what may happen if government gave anybody the license to import fuel Jet A1, also known as aviation fuel.
Ojikutu who made his thoughts on the removal of subsidy by government known to Nigerianflightdeck through an email communication expressed understanding of government’s action but said that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and airlines should be wary of the consequences especially to flight safety.
According to him, there have been instances where the market was flooded with contaminated and substandard products and even more times when kerosene sales instead of Jet A1 became the order of the day.
He said, “The increase in the pumping price of fuel announced by government should not necessarily be the concern of Nigerians but the open cheque given to whoever wants to import fuel into the country. For the aviation industry especially, this could be an invitation to disaster.”
“The government decision arose because it felt it could no longer subsidise the pumping price of fuel as well as provide foreign exchange to support the importation. The NCAA and the airlines operators should be very concerned about this development in fuel importation that could have serious consequence on flight safety.”
“There had been reported cases in the recent past that some marketers were selling kerosene as jet-A1 to airlines. These were marketers who were importing kerosene and collecting subsidies on it from the government and yet were selling it as jet-A1.”
He called on the NCAA to establish standards, if none, for Jet A1 quality assurance
“With the latest development, the NCAA should draw up standards for jet-A1 quality assurance, starting with the transportation vehicles type or profile; supply and trucking systems; storage and dispensing systems, etc. At the moment the vehicles supplying jet-A1 are not sufficiently distinct from those supplying other petroleum products. The consequence of all these development could result in fuel contamination as some of the AIB Reports of some aircraft accidents have shown.”
He expressed disappointment that 24 years down the line the pipelines that supplied Jet A1 from Ejigbo has not been repaired since it got ruptured stating that back then there was quality assurance to the product supplied.
“Up till about 1992, jet-A1 supply to MMA was through pipelines from Ejigbo or NNPC depot. The supply from the MMA depot too, to the hydrants on the apron where fuel is dispensed to aircraft, were done also through the pipelines. The method then was quality assurance in practice.”
“Unfortunately, since the pipelines got ruptured in 1992, nobody in NNPC, NCAA, FAAN and even the airlines the end users, raised serious concern on why there had been no repairs of the pipelines in 24 years,” he said.
He concluded,” The neglect of the repair of the pipelines is a major reason for the high cost of jet-A1 and invariably the airlines operating cost if the costs of transportation and demurrage on the tankers are considered. These costs are huge and are substantial earnings for the owners of the tankers used for bridging the fuel supply between the NNPC depot and the airport depot. These tanker owners are those who would not want to see the pipelines repaired.”