|The report relates to conditions that existed at the time. The study was conducted from 9 July to 20 July 2006. This report would not have been possible without the help and invaluable assistance that was freely given to the UNJLC.
The author and the UNJLC-Kinshasa team extend their deepest appreciation to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN agencies, MONUC staff, non-governmental organisations (NGO), governmental organisations (GO), and other aid agencies. Also, thanks are given to the DRC oil industry including FINA, SHELL, TOTAL, ELF, CONGO-OIL, COBIL, COHYDRO and SEP. Each organisation freely gave information and advice to the extent that they were able, and provided an invaluable insight into the storage, distribution, and oil market. Without this assistance, this report would have been exceedingly difficult, or indeed impossible, to compile in such a short time frame.
The DRC is about to enter into a difficult phase of its evolution and it is envisaged that some form of United Nations presence will be required for many years to come. Therefore the thrust of this report is to outline the current storage and distribution systems as they stand, and look to the future from a humanitarian viewpoint in the short and medium term.
Due to the short period of the study and the vastness of the country, the author was required to use previous experience of country, as well as knowledge of the fuel industry, in order to complete the report. Together, these provided the technical input and, in many cases, the experience the UN agencies required when addressing the logistical problems encountered. It cannot be emphasised enough how valuable the free flow of information from all parties was in the compiling of this report.
The main issue with the fuel distribution to the humanitarian community in the DRC is the lack of common services between agencies and the largest UN fuel consumer, MONUC. Barriers to success could become evident if UN agencies do not cooperate in their ability to meet the MONUC fuel needs in a manner that minimises the administrative tasks. It is firmly believed, provided that no such artificial obstacles or lack of flexibility are demonstrated, that an integrated fuel contract will come into existence in the DRC, representing a tremendous success and triumph for the United Nations family. In addition, the contract will decrease agencies' spending, building in greater flexibility and allowing each agency to concentrate on their respective core business. This contract may well prove a catalyst and assist in pointing the way to future contracting inside the UN family. As such, merit should be given to the hard work that had already taken place on the subject of integrated contracting, and the tremendous goodwill from all involved to make fuel a common service.
The Services des Entreprises Petrolières (SEP) system, the backbone of the supply and distribution of fuels in the DRC, is workable but lacks flexibility. With the existing extremely long supply lines, there is undoubtedly a need for a greater understanding by the operational and ground planners. These individuals must realize the importance of initially establishing what the capability of each depot is, and compare this against the monthly requirement and replacement re-supply cycle. Any fuel dispensing outside of that cycle needs careful analysis, and perhaps a system of central control to ensure that the normal supply pattern is not disrupted. It was noted on several occasions that, had a control system been in place, it would have stopped shortages that were eventually filled by flying in fuel to replenish a base. The use of centrally controlled strategic stock levels in key areas could address the overall planning needed between operational staff and the supply chain managers to minimise the potential shortages.
Due to the short time scale of the visit, a full examination of a fuel support plan to assist in an evacuation of UN staff was not examined. However, it was noted that no fuels in the SEP system were earmarked for any contingency planning. Experience in other missions suggests that perhaps this should be looked into and if necessary formalised.
The fuels infrastructure in DRC is in dire need of a cash injection, as it is in generally poor condition, and is being run on very low financial resources. If the election results return undecided, outside investments will stall. If the elections produce a positive result, one can expect to see oil exploration start in all three areas outlined in this report. This will trigger the much needed investment in the supply chain. However, although the indicators are excellent for oil and gas production, assuming a stable environment, it will take approximately 5 years before fuels investment has an impact on the DRC. If there is not a stable government capable of carrying out legal and binding contracts, there will be limited exploration and all planning will be suspended.