Customer Support in Sao Tome

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs


To the Defense Logistics Agency Energy team, customer service isn’t just a phone call, rather it’s responding around the clock to real-world logistics needs.

When the Voice of America Broadcasting Station located in a remote African island expressed concerns about their contracted fuel delivery, DLA Energy Europe and Africa decided the station required on-site support.

“United Capital Investments Group (fuel contractor) was making their first delivery to this location under a new contract,” said Lead Customer Account Specialist Sammy Sobah. “For this delivery, it was important for DLA to send experts to the field to advise the customer on best practices and ensure the contractor is in compliance with the contract.”

To help provide a smooth transition to the new contractor, Sobah and Quality Assurance Representative Elias Odar traveled to the island of Sao Tome off the west coast of Africa. Their mission was to oversee the fuel delivery from ship arrival all the way to product sampling in the storage tanks.

“The ship size during the 2017 delivery was an issue causing several problems for VOA,” Sobah said. “For the 2018 delivery, Elias ensured the ship dimensions were compatible with the delivery location to ensure the ship size was acceptable – not too big or the draft was too deep to hit the ocean bottom.”

Because the island doesn’t have a deep water port, there are challenges of delivering fuel to this small island about 140 miles off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Sobah said VOA has its own marine terminal and two buoy mooring systems located about one kilometer offshore, but fuel has to be transferred from ship to shore using a six-inch floating hose. The floating hose is deployed to the mooring buoys using a small coastal boat.

During the three-day evolution, DLA Energy conducted a thorough review of the operation. First, Sobah and Odar examined the certificate of quality to ensure the product is traceable. Prior to discharge, they conducted a meeting with the contractor and VOA to review the operation, emergency and stoppage procedures. During and after the ship’s discharge, they provided training materials and went over with VOA maintenance/quality team the best practices for sampling and gauging tanks recommended both at shore and at ship.

Upon completion of the fuel delivery, Sobah said everything went well and the customer was very appreciative of the visit. Sobah and Odar recommended that VOA continue to verify the traceability of product for future deliveries as well as to follow quality surveillance best practices for their fuel storage site. They also told VOA they will continue to follow up to ensure the terms of the contract are being fulfilled.

As part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, VOA is an international multimedia broadcaster with service in more than 40 languages and an estimated weekly global audience of 236.8 million.