DOD Awards Manas Transit Center Fuel Contract
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2010 The Defense Department has awarded a $315 million one-year contract with a one-year option to Gibraltar-based Mina Corp. Ltd. to supply 96 million U.S. gallons of jet fuel to the U.S. Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, which serves as a key logistical hub for the war effort in Afghanistan.
The contract is worth $630 million over two years if the option is exercised. The first delivery under the contract to the Transit Center at Manas will be no later than Feb. 1.
“The core logistical requirement for the Transit Center is fuel,” Derek Mitchell, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told American Forces Press Service.
Mina Corp. was awarded the last fuel contract in August 2009 as a sole-source contract for national security reasons. After the change in Kyrgyz government in April, the Kyrgyz provisional government asked the United States to re-examine the sole-source contract, a Defense spokeswoman said, and officials determined the national security concerns requiring a sole-source contract no longer existed.
In response to the continued fuel requirement for the Manas Transit Center, the Defense Logistics Agency’s energy supply chain issued a solicitation for a requirements fuel contract June 9. The United States amended the solicitation in September to allow for a secondary contract award that would make it possible for other fuel suppliers -- potentially including a Kyrgyz state-owned supplier or an international joint venture -- to provide up to 50 percent of the fuel.
In April, the House Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs began a formal investigation into allegations that contracts to Mina Corp. to supply fuel to the Transit Center substantially enriched family members of then-Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev, who was ousted from office April 7.
The investigation is ongoing.
A Defense Department spokeswoman said today that DOD has no information about Mina Corp. that would preclude awarding a contract to the company.
“It is a priority of the United States,” Mitchell said, “to ensure a secure, reliable and uninterrupted supply of fuel to the Transit Center to enable us to sustain our critical operations in Afghanistan. At the same time we recognize the importance of a fuel contract process that is publicly transparent and fully in compliance with U.S. and Kyrgyz laws and regulations.”
The Transit Center in Manas, near the capital city of Bishkek, is a key part of the Northern Distribution Network, a series of commercially based logistic arrangements connecting Baltic and Caspian ports with Afghanistan via Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus region. The Transit Center represents an important contribution by Kyrgyzstan toward the efforts of the international coalition in Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said.
The critical role that Kyrgyzstan plays in the supply chain for the U.S. and NATO war effort in Afghanistan has focused attention on the political turmoil in Kyrgyzstan. Final results from an Oct. 10 parliamentary election were announced Nov. 1. According to the Kyrgyz constitution, the new parliament must be seated and hold its first session within two weeks.
Since 2001, the Transit Center at Manas has represented a strong partnership between the United States and Kyrgyzstan in promoting international regional stability, Mitchell said.