Moses Asaga, NPA Boss
Ghanaians will continue to use toxic fuel containing high levels of sulphur for a long period of time.
This is because the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) does not have the capacity to reduce the sulphur content in diesel to meet the global standard specification of 10 parts per million (ppm).
Toxic fuel report
ACEP, in partnership with Swiss NGO, Public Eye, recently revealed that Swiss commodity trading firms were exploiting lax regulatory standards to sell dirty diesel to African consumers.
The recent Public Eye report, which cited African nations like Senegal, Congo, Mali, Ghana, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, as being the most receivers of these dangerous fuel, said major European oil companies and commodity traders were exploiting Ghana’s particularly weak fuel standards to export the high-polluting fuels that they could never sell at the pumps in Europe.
The report indicated that the sulphur content of diesel samples in these countries was 300 times than that of European countries, US and Kenya in Africa which has 50 parts per million (ppm).
It said the fuel puts the lives of millions of individuals at risk due to the inhalation of fumes from vehicles in those cars.
The NPA, on Monday October 3, 2016, announced that it had revised the national sulphur specification for diesel from the maximum 3000 parts per million to 500 parts per million, effective January 2017.
Many have called for further downward review of the maximum sulphur content requirement for diesel products imported into the country.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Moses Asaga, in an interview with some journalists in Accra yesterday at Ministry of Information, said the country was importing toxic fuel into the country because TOR lacks the capacity to meet the global specification.
He said the NPA had been forced to maintain high sulphur levels to prevent TOR from shutting down.
He said an African country like Kenya that attempted producing 50ppm shut down its refinery.
“Is that what we want in Ghana…that after all these investments in TOR, the refinery should be closed down because we have not taken our time to meet the technical requirements.”
According to Asaga, the African Refining Association (ARA) states that all refineries should be given four years and that by 2020 they should all be producing 50ppm.
He expressed hope that Ghana can produce 10ppm in the near future if the right investment are made in TOR, stating “it’s possible with capital investment…all that we need is a de-sulphurizer unit to be added to Tema Oil Refinery.”
BDCs to import 10ppm
The NPA however said it will from January 2017 permit Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) to import diesel at 10ppm.
“We are now going to give all the BDCs letters that their first quarter lacans should now be 10ppm as they promised.
“For TOR, we will set it at 500ppm. This is because a lot of TOR’s production is only 10 percent of the total consumption in the country. We really don’t want TOR’s 10 percent to guide our market,” he said.
Ghana’s situation not bad
“I think you people must be happy for Ghana because as we sit today Cote d’Ivoire is doing 3,000 ppm. This is a country we always compare our economic performance with. Meanwhile, our refinery sometimes is able to refine about 500, 300 and even one time 11ppm. So Ghana is really making a good move,” he said.
BY Cephas Larbi