By Emma Emeozor and Adewale Sanyaolu with agency reports
Swiss commodity traders- Vitol and Trafigura, accused of deliberately blending toxic fuel and dumping same in Nigeria and other West African countries yesterday said African governments are to blame for low standards and failure to invest in refineries and newer vehicles to lower exhaust emissions that cause respiratory and other diseases.
Swiss watchdog group, Public Eye, had in a report, “Dirty Diesel” released last week, alleged that the companies are taking advantage of weak African regulatory standards to use cheap and dirty additives to create what is called “African Quality” fuels.
‘‘What is very clear is that the role of improving fuel quality in Africa clearly rests with African governments, not with the fuel suppliers,” the Geneva-based African Refiners Association representing many traders said in a letter obtained yesterday by The Associated Press (AP).
The firms were responding to allegations from Public Eye, accusing traders of deliberately adding toxic products that lower fuel quality to increase profits at the expense of the citizens’ health.
Public Eye had said, traders including Vitol and Trafigura provide Europe with fuel meeting European Union standards of 10 parts per million of sulfur while creating what’s called “African Quality” fuel that has 2,000 ppm or more of sulfur. Nigeria, for example, allows up to 3,000 ppm of sulfur in petrol.
The refiners’ association noted traders’ essential role in “the survival and growth” of economies in Africa, which imports more than 50 percent of its fuel.
“If Swiss traders followed the report’s recommendation today, their role would be filled by traders from other nations who would simply supply the quality required to meet the official specifications. The result would be that nothing would change in Africa,” it said.
“African governments should set stricter standards, international donors should invest in desulfurizing technologies and trading companies should stop bringing in high-sulfurous fuels.”
It said the United Nations Environment Program says low-sulfur fuels can reduce harmful emissions by 50 percent by switching from 2,000 ppm sulfur fuels to 10 ppm.
But, Deputy Director, Public Affairs, at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Dorothy Bassey, had told Daily Sun in a telephone interview that there is no cause for alarm as all petroleum products are tested before entering the shores of the country. According to her, any product or products that fail the specification test are sent back to the country of origin.
‘’But if by error of omission or commission any product/s that fall short of the required specification find their way into the country, the importer of such products will be severely sanctioned,’’ she said.
On his part, the NNPC spokesman, Mr. Mohammed Garbadeen, had also said that, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will not deliberately import toxic fuel into the country.
Meanwhile, Oando Plc, has announced the execution of a definitive agreement with a vehicle owned by funds advised by Helios Investment Partners LLP (“Helios”), a premier Africa-focused private investment firm, to acquire 49 percent of the voting rights in Oando’s midstream business subsidiary, Oando Gas and Power Limited (“OGP”).
The agreed transaction consideration of $115.8 million is conditional upon the receipt of regulatory approvals and subject to customary purchase price adjustments. Upon completion, Oando will retain 49 percent of the voting rights in OGP. The residual 2% will be held by a local entity.
OGP is the pioneer developer of Nigeria’s foremost natural gas distribution network and has subsequently grown to become the largest private sector gas distributor in Nigeria, delivering at peak, 70 million standard cubic feet per day (“mmscf/d”) to over 175 industrial and commercial customers via its vast gas infrastructure network.
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