British fuel giant BP has decided to suspend all its aviation activities and operations in South Africa, including the supply of fuel to aircraft at domestic and international airports in the country.
The exact reason for BP’s decision is not known, but the DA is now speculating that South Africa’s close political ties with Russia could possibly be the cause.
Hamlet Morule, head of communications and external affairs at BP Southern Africa, told Rhewal on Thursday that the company’s decision was made “as a result of Air BP’s current global business strategy”. What exactly this strategy entails is not known.
“BP can confirm that the company has informed its customers of its decision to cease aviation fuel operations at the airports in East London and George on 31 March this year. BP already withdrew its services from Cape Town International Airport on 31 January.
“BP Southern Africa has also taken a decision to cease operations at the OR Tambo International Airport, and will only be involved in the management of this airport until May 1 this year. Our aviation activities at the King Shaka International Airport will also cease on April 30 this year.”
Morule says that BP remains committed to working with all stakeholders in this transitional period to ensure that customers and the country are not adversely affected as a direct result of BP’s exit from South Africa’s aviation industry.
Ties with Russia maybe cause
Kevin Mileham, the DA’s spokesperson on energy, blames BP’s decision on the ANC’s “damning support of Russia’s increasing attack on Ukraine”, as well as the ruling party’s refusal to accept the Russian army’s “blatant trampling of human rights”. to condemn.
“Air BP’s exit could be the beginning of an extensive withdrawal of investment from South Africa by European companies, which are one of our biggest trading partners.”
Mileham also refers to an incident last year where two Russian planes could not get fuel from major international fuel suppliers at OR Tambo and the Cape Town International Airport. The fuel suppliers involved had to comply with the sanctions imposed by their home countries against Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
“To avoid this dilemma in the future, some suppliers such as Air BP have chosen to vote with their feet by leaving South African airports altogether. If the ANC government continues with its pro-Russia stance, more suppliers will follow in Air BP’s footsteps,” says Mileham.
He says the ANC chose to protect Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, rather than the South African economy.
“However, the ANC government not only refused to revise its position on Russia, but on top of that, its Russian friends, through the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa), assured that South Africa would accept a new fuel plan to avoid a scenario handled where ‘a sanctioned friend of the South African government needs service and fuel’.”
Mileham described Acsa’s decision to circumvent Western sanctions against Russia by taking over the supply of fuel and outsourcing that responsibility to PetroSA as “ill-considered”. He says this could have far-reaching consequences for South Africa’s aviation industry, as neither Acsa nor PetroSA have the expertise to carry out such operations on a scale.
“After four of the five aviation fuel refineries in the country closed, South Africa became dependent on imported fuel for aircraft. “The important question that must be asked is whether Acsa and PetroSA will be able to manage these complex international fuel supply chains in order to ensure a steady supply of jet fuel to South African airports.
“With the fuel supply challenges recently reported at OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport, a crisis of confidence may soon emerge across our airport network, with disastrous consequences for the economy.”
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