Liberia: Conex's Response to Allegations of Substandard Petroleum Products

On Monday, January 10th, 2022, an article published in FrontPage Africa contained information implying that major companies and airliners had received sub-par fuel from Conex.

All products imported into Liberia by Conex are tested and certified by the LPRC laboratory. In addition, in compliance with international standards, Conex also ensures that its jet fuel is tested and certified by an international laboratory in Abidjan before that fuel ever reaches its airlines customers in Liberia.

Products that do not meet specifications are rejected, and the vessel is asked to leave the Port of Monrovia. At no time did Conex release tainted or rejected products into the Liberian market.

For almost two years since March of 2020, and long before its acquisition of Total Liberia, Conex supplied Total with jet fuel, which Total then provided to all the airlines flying out of Liberia. Conex petroleum has never received complaints from Total or the airlines about the quality of said fuel.

In early December 2021, our client, ArcelorMittal informed us of their dissatisfaction with the look and texture of the diesel fuel that we supplied to them. We informed Mittal that the product was tested and certified. We also told them that we were willing to re-certify the product to ensure that it met their requirements. They agreed and the product was re-tested and certified for consumption. ArcelorMittal accepted the product and has had no further concerns. Since then, Conex has supplied all petroleum products to Mittal.

A fuel carrying vessel was initially due to arrive on December 4th, 2021, then rescheduled to arrive on December 28, 2021, and further delayed to January 4th, 2022.

The Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) issues a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which is a communication sent for publication to notify Airmen of low availability or the non-availability of jet fuel.

Based on the low supply of jet fuel available at the Aviation Depot at Roberts International Airport (RIA), and in compliance with international aviation standards, the LCAA issued a NOTAM on December 19, 2021, to the Liberia Airport Authority, the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, and the Airlines.

The Initial NOTAM was valid from December 21, 2021 - to December 25, 2021. Due to further delays from the vessel, the NOTAM was extended to January 4, 2022. LCAA published an official NOTAM on December 30, 2021.

Conex complied with industry standards by notifying the LCAA and LAA of the low fuel supply. Conex also directly communicated with the airlines about the issue.

The vessel carrying the long-awaited jet fuel arrived in Liberia on January 4, 2022, and was discharged on January 5, 2022, with 229,000 US gallons of jet fuel. As per Standard Operating Procedures, Conex took fuel samples on January 5, 2022, which were sent to Abidjan for laboratory testing on January 6, 2022. Conex received lab results and certification via email on January 9, 2022, which confirmed that the fuel was up to standard.

Since the first NOTAM was issued on December 19, 2021, Conex has supplied emergency and special flights with 35,968 US gallons of jet fuel. It is important to note that at no point in time did we completely run out of Jet Fuel.

On January 6, Air France communicated to the aviation manager a need for emergency fuel. As a result, Conex dispatched a refueling vehicle to the flight to deliver up to 3,500 US gallons of fuel. Unfortunately, due to unresolved technical issues with the aircraft; Air France could not depart, and the refueller (tanker) was sent back to the depot.

To be clear: Conex had no hand in the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the January 6th Air France flight.

Although the January 6 flight did not depart, Air France arranged for a replacement flight, which Conex supplied with 660 US gallons of jet fuel. On January 7th, that plane successfully took off from RIA. Neither Air France nor any other airline complained about substandard petroleum products from Conex.

On January 10th, 2022, Conex Energy Liberia sent an email to all concerned authorities recalling NOTAM, which expires on January 15th, 2022. To ensure that the airlines have enough fuel, Conex is in the process of replenishing and increasing its jet fuel reserves at RIA.

Conex Energy Liberia is expecting another fuel vessel on January 14th, 2022.

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