31 Jan 2006

Marshall Islands switches to South Korean fuel supplier

9:37 am on 31 January 2006

After 14 years of relying on Mobil Oil Micronesia as its sole fuel supplier, the main utility company in the Marshall Islands has switched to a South Korean supplier.

The delivery of fuel by the SK Networks tanker in Majuro on Monday confirmed the Marshalls Energy Company's switch to a new supplier.

The tanker pumped 1.6 million gallons of diesel into the utility's nearly empty tanks, which have a total holding capacity of six million gallons, but were down to their final 100,000 gallons as the last Mobil fuel shipment was in September.

Mobil Oil Micronesia is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

The government-owned Marshalls Energy Company and SK Networks closed a deal for a one-year fuel supply contract in mid-January, with the help of a Bank of Guam loan and Marshall Islands government guarantee.

The break with Mobil follows accusations from the government's Chief Secretary and MEC board member Robert Muller that Mobil was "price gouging" in the Marshall Islands.

Late last year, he asked US Interior Department deputy assistant secretary David Cohen to investigate Mobil¹s negotiating tactics - an investigation Mobil officials said that they welcome.