Strengthening NATO relationships and laying the groundwork for new fuel agreements, 13 countries and 64 participants gathered for the 14th annual Fuel Exchange Forum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Sept. 25-27.
Defense Logistics Agency Energy Europe and Africa has hosted the meeting since 2007.
“The meeting serves as an annual opportunity to bring together the international fuel agreement community,” said DLA Energy Europe and Africa Commander Army Lt. Col. Dennis Williams. “It’s a terrific opportunity to learn more about fuel infrastructure, future operations and share information which leads to increased partnership opportunities and the use of agreements.”
The forum offered Fuel Exchange Agreement partners the opportunity to reconcile their fuel accounts, expand knowledge of the FEA program through group discussions, observe real-time reconciliations and brief their fuel-related organizations and initiatives.
“We are here to learn from our foreign partners,” Williams said. “Out of the current 41 international DLA Energy FEA agreements, over half are here in Europe and Africa. We continue to improve and grow this forum through the interchange of open discussion with the many countries represented.”
Fuel exchange agreements provide fuel cross-servicing capabilities between partner nations and coalition forces worldwide during NATO exercises and operations, U.N. humanitarian assistance missions and peace time. FEA advantages include improved planning capability, cooperation and flexibility between allies and broader support networks and supply chains as well as cost savings and reduced administrative overhead. Over the years, this annual agreement forum continues to expand and includes key partners’ such as France, Italy, United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Netherlands and others.
“The international fuel agreements can provide the authority for DLA Energy to obtain fuel services such as pipeline access or product from the foreign country to meet current and emerging requirements,” said DLA Energy Europe and Africa International Agreements Chief Steven Helton. “International Agreements cover all major pipeline systems within the DLA Energy Europe and Africa region as well as key fuel depot locations. In addition, Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreement Orders for fuel can cover a specific event or identified time frame, not to exceed 12 months, while a more robust fuel agreement is established.”
For many of these partners, this meeting served as a launching point to begin the agreement process and collaboration efforts.
“Part of the benefit of the meeting is the ability to conduct the FEA reconciliation process with the ten current FEA partners present,” Helton said. “The benefit is having all these foreign partners in one place at one time. It’s also great opportunity to focus on existing fuel infrastructure improvements, and meet one-on-one with countries to discuss ongoing business.”
DLA Energy has authority from U.S. European Command to expand negotiations with several Eastern Europe countries. Many agreements are in the development phase. Over the years, the forum continues to expand to include new partners’ such as Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Romania, and others.
“We’re close to finalizing agreements with Estonia and Latvia and proceeding to work through negotiations with Romania and Lithuania,” Helton said. “One of our goals is to expand DLA Energy military fuel agreements throughout Europe with the support of U.S. European Command.”
Fuel and direct bill agreements are essential elements during international exercise support.
Scott Stafford, international agreement’s lead negotiator for DLA Energy Europe and Africa, described the need for new fuel agreements when operating with Eastern European nations for exercise support such as Sabre Strike and Saber Guardian.
“We’re putting new agreements in place with a heavy focus on Eastern Europe,” said Stafford. “We are in active negotiation for direct bill agreements with Latvia and Romania. A DBA authorizes worldwide fuel exchanges with monetary payment serving as the primary means of settlement between the partnering countries.”
“We are working with the Italian Navy on a new agreement for use of the ports at Augusta and Gaeta replacing a 55-year-old United States Navy agreement and bringing it up to date,” he said. “These agreements help build supply chain efficiency and build long term partnerships around the world.”
Steven Bocock is the DLA Energy Finance retail support branch chief. He and two of his team members attended the forum to perform country specific fuel reconciliations and schedule repayments with ten FEA partners. At last year’s meeting, over $40 million in fuel was reconciled and over $10 million settled via repayment in kind.
“We’re ensuring fuel or cash reimbursement to DLA Energy for fuel sold to FEA partners,” Bocock said. “This meeting has proven to provide financial and operational benefits through international logistics under the Energy fuel agreement program. Meeting participants gain a better mutual understanding of how Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreements are used to authorize and document fuel transactions.”
Sweden Armed Forces Logistics Lt. Col. Peter Lindh is responsible for coordinating his country’s Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreements and briefed his country’s fuel assets and logistics.
“I think it is important to give you information about our planning process because last year, in a big exercise in Sweden, we noticed a problem. The amount of fuel ordered and not consumed cost Sweden a lot, so I think it is important that a logistics planner participate in all meetings and DLA gets the information early.”
In his closing remarks, Williams acknowledged the significance of the forum.
“We hope that our annual meeting continues to provide our partner nations' logistics and financial representatives an ideal forum to discuss mutual fuel support efforts utilizing FEAs,” Williams said. “For the military petroleum community, continued communication coupled with cooperative fuel support efforts, specifically through our FEAs, will be the answer to most of the challenges encountered. We look forward to closely working with everyone throughout the year and coming together again in 2019.”