Fiji spends $800m annually on fuel imports

Alison Newell, Katerina Syngellakis, Andrew Irvin, Tamaholo Kami and Mark Borg during a press conference. Picture: JONA KONATACI

FIJI’s annual imported fossil fuel bill amounts to $800 million and this price varies with the fluctuating fuel prices.

Pacific Regional representative Green of Growth Planning and Implementation (GGPI) Katerina Syngellakis revealed this figure during a press conference on Pacific Islands Transport Forum at the University of the South Pacific last week.

Ms Syngellakis said the Pacific region as a whole had an annual import fossil fuel bill amounting to $6 billion.

“Now all that fuel is being imported into Fiji and some of it is being reshipped to other smaller Pacific Island countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati.”

She said for Fiji alone its annual imported fossil fuel bill accounted for 60 per cent to 100 per cent of its annual gross domestic product which indicated how much we spent and depended on importing fossil fuel.

Sailing for Sustainability Fiji Ltd director Alison Newell also stated during the press conference that the cost of fuel was completely outside the control of any of the Pacific Island countries.

“And so what we are seeing in the global fuel industry at the moment is with international shipping for instance the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has already brought in fuel quality controls which includes monitoring the sulfur contents of the fuel which isn’t a greenhouse gas but it has a huge health implications.

“There is a global ban that will kick in 2020 where ships are not allowed to carry high fuel oil,” Ms Newell said.

“The reality is the transition that we need if we are going to try and meet 1.5 degrees is so huge that nobody in the Pacific is going to be able to do it alone and it is going to depend upon all of us working together collectively and as a fundamental role with the private sector and government along with academic institutions.”

The Pacific Islands Transport Forum which starts today is a great platform for the University of the South Pacific to showcase some of their students’ research and ideas in terms of looking for local solutions for our transport challenges.

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