The Africa center for energy policy launched a report published by one of its partners Public EYE, titled "Dirty Diesel". The report reveals how Swiss commodity trading firms exploit the weak fuel regulatory standards in Africa to produce, deliver and sell diesel and gasoline, which is damaging to people’s health. Through the process of blending, an industry practice, these companies produce cheap but toxic petroleum products to make what has come to be known in the industry as “African Quality” fuels. These products contain very high level of Sulphur and other toxic substances such as benzene and aromatics.
Sulphur in fuel is found to be the main contributor to Sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. Pollutions from diesel and gasoline have a measurable effect on humans, animals, vegetations, building materials or visibility and some of these effects results in premature deaths, reduce crop yield, acidification, eutrophication’s, reduction in biodiversity, impaired ecosystem services etc. In a recent estimate by the WHO, 50,000 people in Africa died prematurely from outdoor air pollution exposure annually.
According to a recent UN study, the populations in the continent's major urban centers suffer from the most rapidly increasing levels of air pollution in the world. The prestigious organization, ICCT, estimates that by 2030 Africa will have three times as many deaths from traffic-related particle dust than Europe, Japan, and the US combined.
Dr. Seth Duvor of the La general hospital said “the Sulphur element in petrol is combusted in the exhaust fumes and gets into the atmosphere and in the atmosphere it reacts with oxygen to form Sulphur dioxide. The Sulphur dioxide get inhaled into the lungs. People who a have high concentration of Sulphur dixode have reduced immunity which predisposes them to all source of respiratory infection ranging from pneumonia to bronchiolitis”.
It is worth noting that in Ghana the NPA’s mandate in ensuring fuel quality is to protect the interest of consumers and petroleum service providers and to initiate and conduct investigation into standards of quality of petroleum products offered to consumers.
In a deregulated market as is the case of Ghana, regulation reduces as deregulation increases and if transparency doesn’t increase, manipulation becomes the order of the day. That is why it is of great importance that we must ensure that there is transparency in the downstream sector as regards the quality of the petroleum products supplied by foreign companies.
Data from the Ghana standards authority gives the specification and market compliance of Sulphur content per PPM for imported petroleum products as 3000 and 305 for diesel and gasoline respectively.
This is extremely high as compared to the standards in other continents for example, 10 PPM for Europe and 15 PPM for USA.
The NPA has put out a new standard of 500 PPM which will be effective January 2017, though commendable there are still some issues that needs to be thoroughly discussed.
It is based on the intense debate that was generated after the launch of the report and also the public discussions after the NPA announced the new standards, that ACEP deems it appropriate to organize a forum of relevant stakeholders for a thorough discussion on the new standards with the view to making recommendations that will eventually improve on the quality of our fuel.
The forum will be a platform to officially assemble key stakeholders including some CSOs to effectively contribute to the advocacy on reducing the Sulphur content in our fuel.
The objectives of the forum is to:
- Get industry players opinion on the new standards
- Get stakeholders commitment to the advocacy campaign for a much cleaner fuel
- make recommendations that will eventually improve on the quality of our fuel
The forum will start with a brief presentation on the new standards, which CBOD and COPEC will be afforded the opportunity to comment on the critical issues raised in the presentation by the report.
The NPA will give some historical perspectives on the quality of petroleum products as regards Sulphur and other toxic substances and the way forward in addressing the issues raised
Participants will also be given the opportunity to put across their views, questions and recommendations.
Participants will be drawn from,
civil society organizations, GMA, GSA, CBOD, TOR, EPA, COPEC, GPRTU, AGI,NPA ,ministry of science and environment , oil companies, parliamentary select committee on mines and energy, parliamentary select committee on subsidiary legislation, media.
The total number of participants is expected to be 50.
Venue: Mensvik Hotel East Legon
Date: Oct. 12, 2016