European oil companies, especially Swiss commodity traders, are exploiting weak African fuel standards by selling toxic diesel and gasoline across the continent, a campaign group said Thursday.
A three-year investigation published by Switzerland-based environmental and economic group Public Eye did not accuse oil companies of breaking any laws.
But it charged several firms with using an “illegitimate strategy” to boost profits, hawking so-called “African quality” fuels that have had devastating health and environmental impacts across many sub-Saharan states.
In a 160-page report based on research in eight African countries, Public Eye found fuels sold at the pump which contained high levels of toxins, notably sulphur.
In Africa, sulphur limits are on average 200 times higher.
“By selling such fuels at the pump in Africa, the traders increase outdoor air pollution, causing respiratory disease and premature death,” said the report from Public Eye, a group previously known as the Bern Declaration and founded in 1968.
Among the key culprits, Public Eye named Swiss traders Vitol and Trafigura as well as the multi-national energy group Oryx, which specialises in the African market.
In a statement sent to AFP, Vitol called the report “inaccurate and misinformed,” stressing that African governments were responsible for setting their own fuel standards.
Oryx made the same case, noting in a statement that it sells fuel products “that strictly comply with the national legislation of each client country.”
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Public Eye tested fuel sold in Angola, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Zambia.
While sub-Saharan Africa includes major oil producers like Angola and Nigeria, limited refining capacity on the continent means that most African oil is sold as crude on the international market.
States then import fuel products refined abroad, often from European traders.
These transactions often involve regional brokers in Africa, who are sometimes responsible for mixing the fuel.
Public eye called on African governments “to set stringent fuel quality standards” in line with European levels, arguing that was the most effective way to crack down on toxic blends.
Fears that banning low-quality blends will raise costs for consumers are misguided, the report said.
It noted that measures in East Africa to limit sulphur continent had “no impact on prices at the pump.”
Importing better fuel would also lower healthcare expenses and reduce vehicle maintenance costs in the long run, Public Eye argued.
With many of the toxic blends produced in Europe and the United States, Public Eye urged Western governments to ban the export of fuel products that do not meet their own domestic standards.
Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal
Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.
The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.
Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.
However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.
This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.
August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.
Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.
Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.
Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.
Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.
He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.
Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.
The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.
Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.
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