More than one and a half years after the Federal Government banned the importation of dirty fuels into the country, industry players and other stakeholders are still awaiting the enforcement of the ban.
Our correspondent gathered that a report had been submitted to the Federal Government by a committee that included the Department of Petroleum Resources, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and the Ministry of Environment regarding the plan to shift to low-sulphur fuels.
Most of the petroleum products consumed in the country are imported with sulphur content as high as 1,000 parts per million for petrol and 3,000ppm for diesel.
On December 1, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire agreed to ban the importation of Europe’s dirty fuels, limiting sulphur in fuels from 3,000 parts per million to 50 ppm.
But the enforcement of the ban failed to come into effect on July 1, 2017 in Nigeria as announced in December 2016 by the then Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed.
A petroleum expert, Mr Bala Zakka, who expressed concern on the continued importation of dirty fuels, said, “One of the problems with Nigeria is lack of implementation of policies.”
“How on earth can we be exporting sweet crude that is almost sulphur-free or with a small percentage of sulphur and then be importing refined products with high sulphur content? This tells you that something is definitely wrong with Nigeria.” He spoke in a telephone interview with our correspondent.
The Chief Operating Officer of Refineries and Petrochemicals, NNPC, Mr Anibor Kragha, told the African Refiners Association in March this year that the country would lower the top level of sulphur in diesel to 50 parts per million from 3,000ppm, by July 1, 2018.
UNEP, ARA and health campaigners have been pushing West African nations to ban fuels that are illegal in Europe and the United States for years due to what they say are significant health problems associated with sulphur emissions – particularly in dense urban areas such as Lagos.
The region is said to be one of the last on earth where it is legal to sell fuels with sulphur levels at and above 1,000ppm as East and North African nations and major Asian consumer countries such as China and India have already tightened rules.
ARA has developed the AFRI specifications as guidelines for the production of cleaner fuels including AFRI III (300ppm for petrol and 500ppm for diesel), AFRI IV (150ppm for petrol and 50ppm for diesel). Africa aims to produce fuels with the AFRI-4 specifications by 2020.