By Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
Air France, KLM Face Possible Disruptions Amid Peru’s Fuel Shortage
On Feb. 4, the French and Dutch embassies in Peru issued a statement addressed to the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs showing their concern about the air operations’ continuity between Peru and Europe. This message was issued after the La Pampilla refinery — operated by the Spanish company Repsol — stopped its operations on Feb. 1 by express order of the Peruvian government.
This stoppage was decreed after an ecological disaster occurred on Jan. 15, when an average of 11,900 oil barrels were spilled into the Peruvian sea in Ventanilla, Peru.
According to the Peruvian government, the interruption of the activities at the La Pampilla refinery was necessary, since the company does not have the appropriate plans to face a major accident like the one that occurred on Jan. 15.
La Pampilla is the largest refinery in Peru, in terms of the volume for refined oil each day, processing around 120,000 barrels per day and supplying 40 percent of the Peruvian fuel market. Regarding the fuel supply for aircraft at Lima, Peru’s Jorge Chávez International Airport, La Pampilla provides 75% of the fuel for them.
For this reason, the French and Dutch embassies in Peru expressed their interest and concern in guaranteeing operations between Peru and Europe. The embassies’ main concern is the supply of fuel to the Air France and KLM aircraft in Peru since Repsol supplies 70% of the fuel both carriers use for their operations in the country.
According to what the embassies expressed in a statement issued, there was fuel for only 15 more days to supply the eleven weekly operations that Air France and KLM have in Peru. The embassies requested the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its special and urgent attention to this matter, to guarantee the fuel supply to ensure smooth and uninterrupted flight operations.
Peru finds itself in a very complex situation as it cannot guarantee the supply of fuel for aircraft operating in the country. For this reason, the Peruvian government is negotiating with Ecuadorian and Colombian companies for a possible fuel supply channel for the country.
The Peruvian government is monitoring its fuel inventories on a daily basis and evaluating other possible supply scenarios. Lima, Peru’s Jorge Chávez International Airport has more than 250 daily operations, between domestic and international flights.
Fuel shortages would represent a major threat to the country’s connectivity and to its economy. A possible fuel shortage would generate a new crisis for the aeronautical sector which is currently trying to recover from the crisis caused by the global pandemic. A new crisis in the sector would have serious consequences and an uncertain future in finding a long-term solution could compromise a recovery.