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Agreement signed for Nome fuel delivery

Sitnasuak Native Corporation (SNC) of Nome has signed a contract with Vitus Marine LLC to deliver 1.5 million gallons of petroleum products to Nome via marine tanker. Delivery is scheduled for late December. The petroleum will replace the 1.6 million gallons that were scheduled to be delivered by barge this fall to Bonanza Fuel. The fuel never arrived. Bonanza Fuel is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC.

The contract calls for the delivery of petroleum products via a double-hulled Ice Classed Russian tanker. The vessel is certified to travel through 4 feet of ice and recently traveled through 5 feet of ice for extended distances while delivering fuel to communities in the Russian Far East. If successful, this planned voyage will mark the first time that petroleum products have been delivered by sea to a Western Alaskan community in winter.

The contract calls for the delivery of home heating oil, unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel. The transportation cost will be substantially lower than the cost of the standard winter delivery method using a DC-6 air tanker.

SNC looked at all available winter transportation options. It began discussions with the operator of the fall fuel barge and then expanded discussions to a number of different marine transportation companies. The option that SNC selected was deemed to be the lowest cost, most practical option.

SNC and Vitus have been working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard on all aspects of the planned voyage and delivery. “The Coast Guard has done an excellent job in working with us to execute an innovative and complex solution to the fuel crisis that currently faces the community of Nome,” said SNC Board Chairman Jason Evans. “They are currently investigating the use of the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy to ensure the Russian tanker is able to make it through the ice to Nome. We really appreciate their assistance.”

SNC is the Native village corporation for Nome and is owned by 2,400 Inupiat Eskimos who either live in Nome or who have family ties to Nome.

Vitus Marine is a marine services company providing fuel and freight to customers in Alaska’s most remote areas, with both domestic and Far East fuel supply chains. The company was formed primarily to operate tugs and barges owned by Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) to deliver fuel and other critical supplies to AVEC generation sites in remote Alaska.

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