Despite talk of sustainable energy and transport, Vava’u faces benzene shortage

    Only a few months after Tonga hosted a regional conference of energy ministers based around the theme of “affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and transport services for all,” Vava’u has almost run out of benzene.

    Pacific Energy Tonga manager Paula Taufa said he expected the MV ‘Otuanga’ofa to arrive tomorrow at Neiafu with 10,000 litres of benzene.

    There is still plenty of oil and diesel on Vava’u , Pacific Energy Ltd said today.

    Last year the island almost ran out of fuel completely  in September and as Kaniva News reported at the time, the shortage threatened to shut down the local tourist industry.

    The government hired a ship in Singapore to bring fuel to the island.

    It eventually arrived in October, 230,000 litres of petrol and 340,000 litres of diesel.

    Last year President of the Vava’u Tourism Association, Calvin Schumaker told Radio New Zealand the island usually experienced “one fuel shortage per year (for) a couple of days.”

    Matangi Tonga quoted one tour operator today as saying he had managed to find benzene left over from last year.

    Pacific Energy owns the only fuel depot on the island and is the sole supplier of fuel.

    The newspaper quoted a spokesperson from the Ministry of Tourism saying the depot was too small for the needs of the island.

    Taufa said the disruption to supplies had been caused by the delay of tanker sailing from Fiji.

    In recent years the Tongan government has promoted the development of tourism on Vava’u, but Dolphin Pacific Diving Alistair Coldrick manager told Matangi Tonga the government and energy companies had failed the island and its businesses.

    The main points

    • Only a few months after Tonga hosted a regional conference of energy ministers based around the theme of “affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and transport services for all,” Vava’u has almost run out of benzene.
    • Pacific Energy Tonga manager Paula Taufa said he expected the MV ‘Otuanga’ofa to arrive tomorrow at Neiafu with 10,000 litres of benzene.
    • Last year the island almost ran out of fuel completely in September.

    For more information

    Crisis in Vava’u as fuel runs out (Kaniva News)

    Tonga’s Vava’u running on empty (RNZ)

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