Alaska, the dry state

ALASKA, a popular choice for transpacific refuelling stops, is increasingly reliant on imported jet fuel.

Flint Hills Resources, a refining and chemicals company, has decided not to restart a third crude oil processing unit at its refinery at North Pole, near Fairbanks, this summer. Flint Hills scaled back production in 2009 when freighter demand plunged due to the recession, leaving carriers more dependent on tanker-imported fuel. The sudden reversal in air cargo demand caught the petrochemical company by surprise. It briefly started the unit last summer but closed it again in the autumn adversely affecting transpacific traffic.

Carriers have now resorted to either overflying Alaska or using imported fuel, which at the moment is cheaper than the fuel they would buy from Flint Hills.

In the past, Flint Hills, and in particular the closed third unit, provided Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport with 60 per cent of the 800 million gallons of jet fuel sold there each year.

John Parrott, the airport manager, said air cargo traffic has rebounded to 2008 levels and that the airport is expanding storage capacity from 76 million litres to 136 million litres.

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