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NMDPRA tests 3-month imported product as probe widens

The probe into the source of fuel contamination recently discovered in the aviation industry deepened yesterday as the Nigerian...

The probe into the source of fuel contamination recently discovered in the aviation industry deepened yesterday as the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said its survey on imported fuel between May and July did not find anything negative.

 The Authority Chief Executive of the NMDPRA, Engr Farouk Ahmed, said the survey conducted by the authority covered May 1 and July 18 on aviation fuel (Jet A1). 

He spoke at a stakeholders’ forum organised by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which has launched a probe into how a huge volume of water found its way into the aircraft belonging to Max Air.

 The aircraft 5N-MHM was flying Abuja-Maiduguri on July 7 when a fuel gauge indication light came up with the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) shutting down, prompting the pilot to land at Yola Airport.

 The NCAA had dispatched a team to Abuja, Kano and Lagos where the airline was said to have refueled before the incident with the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) joining the investigation. 

At the forum, the NMDPRA boss said the authority took the incident very seriously and immediately swung into action to trace the source of the contamination.

 He said the authority decided to conduct a survey on imported fuel from the coastal depots covering May 1 and July 18, adding, “We have not seen anything negative in the survey.” 

However, he stated that the authority only has control of the fuel from the coastal depots, to the fuel depots but can’t ascertain what happens when the products are being discharged at the airports. 

He also stated that other possibilities being looked at include the likely blending of Household Kerosene (HHK) with Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK) used to power the aircraft. 

Director General of Civil Aviation, Capt. Musa Nuhu, described the fuel contamination incident as worrisome, saying it has recently become a recurring decimal.

 He said all efforts must be made to get to the root of the cause, adding, “This is why we are involving all the stakeholders. The fuel contamination is outside the purview of the aviation ecosystem which is why we have engaged the regulator of the downstream sector. We have been in consultation with NMDPRA because they certify all the oil companies in Nigeria.”

 Director General of NSIB, Engr Akin Olateru, declared that in his 35 years stint in the industry, he had never witnessed such an occurrence and said the issue is a great concern to all stakeholders.

 Olateru said the incident highlighted the imperative of implementing past recommendations of the bureau (formerly Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB) which mandated the NCAA to conduct an independent investigation into aviation fuel quality.


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