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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 3) - Oil giant Mobil has shelved its jet fuel tank project at the Tinian International Airport due to the current lack of any aviation customers that would ensure business viability.

Mobil Oil Mariana Islands, Inc. president Jeff Borja said that the company has demonstrated its support for the project in the last two years, but said that no aviation customers have committed to purchasing fuel on Tinian.

The company issued the statement following the recent adoption of a resolution by the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, which urged the oil firm to expedite the installation of the jet fuel tank.

The APIL is an association of lawmakers from 12 Pacific governments such as the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, Republican of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, Hawaii, Republic of Nauru and Republic of Kiribati.

The APIL said the project would enhance air traffic using the Tinian airport, after the Federal Aviation Administration's certified that the Tinian runway is included in the U.S. Transportation Department list of airports allowed to receive large aircrafts.

"Aviation customers have not committed to purchasing fuel in Tinian," Borja said. "Since there are no aviation contracts to substantiate a business reason for Mobil to invest any further in a jet fuel tank in Tinian, Mobil will cease working on this project."

Borja said, though, that the company would continue to consult with the government regarding the project. He said Mobil has been working with the government for nearly two years to support the CNMI's economic growth.

Mobil earlier procured and leased equipment as it developed a temporary plan to safely provide fuel support at the Tinian airport.

"These assets have been idle at one of our facilities, awaiting completion of commercial agreements between Mobil and the intended aviation customers. Such an investment requires significant financial commitment, and to date, Mobil spent substantial dollars in shipping, leasing and procuring equipment for this project," Borja said.

Currently, only China Southern Air's large aircraft use the Tinian airport for chartered flights between the island and China. Tinian Dynasty and Casino are chartering the flights. 

August 4, 2004 

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