Athens rejects US fuel request-CORRECTED

Greece has turned down a request by the US Embassy in Athens, asking that its naval fleet be allowed to use a fuel normally pumped into cars, due to government concerns that the gasoline will eventually end up in the country’s booming illegal fuel business. Sources told Kathimerini yesterday that the Finance Ministry has rejected a request by US Ambassador Charles Ries that the US Sixth Fleet be supplied with a transparent diesel rather than the customary black-colored fuel used by ships. The Finance Ministry, which rejected the request on the grounds that it does not abide with local law, became suspicious when it learned that the fuel would be supplied by Aegean Oil, which is owned by Dimitris Melissanidis, a source said. The US Embassy says that the black-colored fuel causes problems to its ship engines. After being contacted by Kathimerini yesterday, the US Embassy said: «We are sympathetic with the government of Greece’s concern regarding the diversion of oil to trucks. Our concern is to find a way for the Sixth Fleet that meets its standards.» A source said that NATO ships had found recently that the dyed fuel clogged their filters. The US buys $200 million worth of fuel in Greece annually and could seek supplies elsewhere if its request were not met, a source said. Different fuels have been colored as a means of helping differentiate between types that are taxed differently. Shipping fuel is tax-free while car fuel is burdened with 245 euros in tax per thousand liters. CLARIFICATION In the article published on October 6, 2005, Kathimerini English Edition noted that Mr Melissanidis «has been connected to illegal fuel trade in the past.» We would like to note that Mr Melissanidis has repeatedly won his cases in the Greek courts (nine times, according to an Aegean Oil spokesman).