Saudi to boost fuel supply to US forces in Gulf
LONDON: Saudi Arabia has steeply raised the amount of its jet fuel earmarked for the United States military, which is expanding its presence in the Gulf, Middle East trading sources said.
They said state oil company Saudi Aramco may have put aside upwards of a million tonnes of the aviation fuel for possible use by the US military this year, compared with around 200,000 tonnes in 2006. “I believe that Saudi Arabia was warned in advance of the increased US military activity starting early 2007 and may have allocated 1.0 million to 1.2 million tonnes of jet fuel for possible use by the US military during 2007,” one source said.
The Pentagon dispatched a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf last month. The Defense Energy Support Center, which oversees the Pentagon’s fuel purchases, said an increased presence would entail more fuel demand.
“We are expecting to send another 20,000-25,000 troopers to the Middle East in the near term, so there should be a significant increase in fuel demand,” said Patrick Jones, a DESC spokesman in Virginia. He said the extra supply of jet fuel, as well as other oil products, would come from existing contracts with Middle East suppliers. A spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said all naval aircraft used JP-5, a high flash point aviation fuel. While refineries typically produce standard jet A-1 for civilian aircraft, this can easily be upgraded to JP-5. reuters