BP says it remains committed to working with its stakeholders to ensure that customers and the country are not adversely impacted by its exit from South Africa's aviation market.
This week, the British oil and gas giant announced that it was quitting SA airports.
BP said that as part of good business practice, Air BP reviewed its portfolio continuously.
“In light of its latest review, a decision was taken to exit all of BP’s aviation activities, as operator at the airports, and direct supplier to airlines, in South Africa. The decision was made as a result of Air BP’s current global business strategy,” said the head of communications and external affairs at BP Southern Africa, Hamlet Morule.
"The decision was made as a result of Air BP’s current global business strategy. BP can confirm that it has sent out communication advising its customers of its decision to cease aviation fuel activities at East London and George Airports on March 31, 2023, and has withdrawn from Cape Town International Airport effective January 31, 2023.
“Furthermore, BP Southern Africa has taken a decision to exit operations at OR Tambo International Airport and is currently serving notice to cease being managing participant, effective May 1, 2023. We have sent out communications advising our customers of our decision to cease aviation activities at OR Tambo and King Shaka International Airports on April 30, 2023," Morule said.
According to reports, PetroSA says it will ensure enough fuel for the country's aviation industry.
Speculation is rife that BP's decision stems from the SA government's stance on the Russian/Ukraine war, and could be linked an incident in 2022, when two Russian planes could not get fuel from large international fuel suppliers at OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport where the fuel suppliers had to adhere to the sanctions imposed on Russia by their countries of origin.
The DA’s Kevin Mileham said BPs exit could be the beginning of a wider disinvestment from South Africa.
"The ANC government’s support for Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine and its refusal to condemn the flagrant abuse of human rights by the invading Russian army has triggered economic consequences for South Africa as Air BP has announced its exit from South African airports. This exit by Air BP could be the beginning of a wider disinvestment from South Africa by businesses from Europe, which is one of our largest trading partners," he said.
Mileham added that Airports Company SA’s ill-advised decision to bypass Western sanctions on Russia by taking over the refuelling of planes and contracting some of that responsibility to PetroSA could have wider ramifications for the country’s aviation industry because neither has the expertise to run such operations at scale.
“After five of the five jet fuel refineries were shut down in the country, South Africa has become reliant on imported jet fuel. The urgent question that should be asked is whether ACSA and PetroSA will be able to manage the complex international jet fuel supply chains in order to ensure a steady supply of jet fuel to South African airports. With the fuel supply challenges that have recently been reported at ORTIA and CTIA, a crisis of confidence could soon emerge across our airport networ,k with dire consequences for the economy,” Mileham said.