By Catherine Sasman
Namcor’s oil supply company, Afroneft, said it would never allow a situation where it would not be in a position to deliver oil products to Namibia.
Afroneft and Namcor on Wednesday convened a press briefing in which they wanted to clarify some reports that have appeared in the media over the last month, saying that some of the reports were not all factual.
They were also responding to reports in the media this week that the country might experience fuel shortages because five local oil companies again would not accept the products ferried by Afroneft.
Namcor had denied these allegations, stating that there were no hiccups with the most recent shipment of diesel and jet fuel to Walvis Bay last Friday.
Chairperson of Afroneft, Ivor Ichikowitz, said there was no environmental or technical justification for local oil companies to have rejected the second consignment of petroleum products which cost Namcor N$1.2 million at the beginning of last month.
He also said the local companies have so far not produced any reasons why they did not want to accept the consignment.
According to him, the vessel, the Farendal, had prior to delivering products at the Namibian coast, been used by other major oil companies to dispense oil at international ports such as Baltimore, Rotterdam and others.
“The rejection by the oil companies in our opinion is completely without ground,” said Lituanian Ichikowitz, adding that it was an “absolute game” and “just meddling” “to make things difficult for Namcor” that supplies 50 percent of Namibia’s fuel needs.
He also said that the very same companies rejecting products from the vessels used by Afroneft, had in the past used the same vessels, as many companies charter more or less the same vessels continuously.
The altercations with local fuel companies, said Managing Director of Namcor, Sam Beukes, was also because different vessels were being used for every consignment since Afroneft sources fuel from the global market, and not from South Africa as had been the case before.
And previously, only two vessels supplied fuel to Namcor. Now, said Beukes, the paradigm shift has brought about a scenario where there is one supplier, Afroneft, with the five local companies, each with their own technical standards.
But, said Ichikowitz, the last consignment was on a ship that was built in 2006; the companies presumably did not want to accept products from this vessel “because they claimed the crew on the vessel was not sufficiently experienced”, said Ichikowitz.
The current situation means that all local oil companies have to accept the vessels assignment to each consignment. Should any one of the companies reject the vessel – within a window period of 12 to 24 hours, Afroneft has to find another vessel to deliver the products.
Ichikowitz said the Afroneft fuel supply situation is not unsolvable, suggesting a round table discussion with all stakeholders.
Afroneft is an associate company of Glencore, which Ichikowitz described as the largest private player in the oil and gas industry.