Liberia: Jet Fuel Shortage Hits RIA

The Robert International Airport is facing supply shortages in jet fuel as a result of the trickle-down impact of the Ukraine War. 

The newest development coincides with the appointment of a new managing director of the Liberia Airport Authority by President George Weah yesterday amid numerous challenges at the airport — primarily electricity — which have sometimes led to blackouts. 

But the news of jet fuel shortages will be an additional headache for the airport's current management as they would struggle in meeting the demand of aircrafts leaving Liberia who need a full tank before flying.

This might seriously impact Brussels and other airline brands using RIA as a route.  The impact  could end up causing some flights to be canceled or force airlines to make extra stops to fuel up before flying to Liberia. 

 It is on that full tank they would be able to fly out of Liberia since the country does not have enough jet fuel to meet their demand.

Royal Air Maroc, SN Brussels, and Kenya Airways often refuel in Liberia due to the distance they cover before landing in Liberia but this is no longer the case. Currently, SN Brussels is the only airline flying directly to Liberia from Europe.

Announcing the shortage, Conex Energy, Inc., which supplies Jet fuel in the country, said it would like to inform the public that there is a fuel shortage in the region due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

"This is causing major delays of jet fuel and other petroleum product vessels around the world," Conex Energy said in a press release.  “The next jet fuel vessel to Liberia is expected around May 17. 

“Based on the above, we have communicated to all relevant stakeholders, to include the Ministries of Commerce, Transport, the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and The Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC). This will allow our customers and stakeholders time to plan accordingly.” 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February sent oil prices well above $100 per barrel, affecting everything from shipping prices to jet fuel.   

Jet fuel costs have jumped more than 15% since the start of the war, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

And for consumers, the increasing cost of fuel will mean higher travel expenses, as airlines pass on rising costs. 

Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers and exporters and a giant in natural gas markets. 

Russia is a major player in global energy markets. It is one of the world’s top three crude producers, vying for the top spot with Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russia relies heavily on revenues from oil and natural gas, which in 2021 made up 45% of Russia’s federal budget. 

Russia is also the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas, behind the United States, and has the world’s largest gas reserves. Russia is the world’s largest gas exporter. In 2021 the country produced 762 bcm of natural gas, and exported approximately 210 bcm via pipeline.

As the jet fuel shortage was being announced, Pres. Weah was announcing the appointment of Darlington Karnley as the new managing director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA).

Appointed on May 4 Karnley presently works at Boeing, America's leading aircraft manufacturer as an Avionics Tech Specialist Manager, managing all Installation, inspection, test, adjust, or repairs avionics equipment, such as radar, radio, navigation, and missile control systems in aircraft or space vehicles.

He is also an aviation maintenance technician in airframe and powerplant. Karnley, comes to the portfolio with a rich background in the field of Aviation and is a master degree candidate in aviation management from the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Philadelphia.

He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cuttington University, Ba bachelor of Arts in Theology from Southern Adventist University in the US.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate, where applicable. 

Of late, the RIA has been experiencing some critical power outage problems — the latest instance being the power outage on the night of April 27, which forced an inbound Brussels Airlines flight to return to Freetown, after attempting to land.

The incident caused panic over the safety of the passenger's crew aboard the aircraft. 

The RIA reportedly served 228,000 passengers annually in 2018 and is the nation's busiest and most important aviation facility, currently hosting the country's only scheduled commercial airline services, with direct connections to several major African cities as well as flights to Europe and beyond.