NPA revises sulphur specification for diesel

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has revised the national sulphur specification for diesel from maximum 3,000 parts per million (pmm) to 500pmm.

The revision takes effect from January 2017.

“Additionally, all suppliers of fuel to Ghana are, by this revised specification, allowed to import diesel at 10ppm or lower. This means that while the revised national specification will be at 500pmm, suppliers of fuel could import ultra-low-sulphur diesels (ULSD) to Ghana as pertains in Europe,” a statement signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, Mr Moses Asaga, and issued in Accra stated.

It was issued barely 24 hours after the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) had issued a statement advocating for the revision of standards in the amount of sulphur in diesel to meet European specifications.

“It is our recommendation that the standards be revised to 10ppm and a transition road map developed by industry, in conjunction with representative consumer groups and civil society organisations (CSOs),” a statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by the CEO of the CBOD, Mr Senyo Hosi, noted.
The lower the sulphur content in diesel, the better, but Ghana currently has between 2,000 and 3,000ppm in its diesel products.

This high sulphur content was recently revealed in a publication by Public Eye, a Swiss based organisation.
Industry players, including the CBOD, have been accused by concerned Ghanaians of being the brains behind the high sulphur content in diesel, but the CBOD, in a statement in reaction to the publication, denied any wrongdoing.

“It must, however, be noted that standards for fuel are set by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA),” it said.
In spite of the standard set by the GSA, the CBOD disclosed that its members had in times past imported diesel with sulphur content as low as 50ppm.

Key facts
“Media discussions and reports have sometimes been misleading,” it said, and accordingly sought to clarify key issues and facts, as well as make its position, as a chamber, known to the public.
 “We do appreciate the research and advocacy work undertaken by Public Eye in heightening public interest in such a very important matter. While we do have some reservations about key factual misrepresentations in the report, we do accept the call for a major review of the country’s specifications and diesel supply trade,” it said.
Highlighting the key facts, the statement said the Ghana specification for sulphur in diesel stood at a maximum 3,000ppm.
“Hence the lower the sulphur content in PPM terms, the cleaner and better the fuel. BDC supplies to the market have been between 1000 and 2000ppm and in some cases we have supplied 50ppm to the market.
“It is, therefore, untrue that BDC supplies have been substandard. In fact, we supply superior quality, compared to the set standards, and have in no way breached the laws of Ghana,” the statement emphasised.
Role of NPA
It said the NPA, in conjunction with industry, had led efforts towards the revision of standards to improve the quality of gas oil supplies.
“In 2010, the specifications were revised from 10,000ppm to 5,000ppm and under the current leadership of the NPA, standards have since 2014 been revised to 3,000ppm.
“As a matter of fact, when BDCs commenced operations in 2007, standards still stood at 10,000ppm but BDCs operated at 5,000ppm. The NPA’s engagements with industry in 2013 and 2014 were aimed at a 1,000ppm standard but was constrained by logistical and regional (West Africa) considerations,” it explained.
It said in recent times the NPA had spearheaded efforts with industry to revise the standards to 500ppm or better.
 “The competition among 35 BDCs and the standardisation of specifications do not create opportunities for any BDC to accrue extra profits from using the Ghana specification. It is, therefore, not the case that BDCs have sought to make ‘extra’ profits at the expense of the health of consumers,” it added.
On the call for the revision of specifications, the CBOD said: “We absolutely support the call for a revision of the sulphur specifications in diesel to 10ppm, as is traded in Europe.
“We find it necessary for the quality of fuels to be improved to protect lives and promote the health of all, including children and adults,” the statement noted.

Cost implication
Departing from its earlier position that a change in specifications would lead to an increase in prices, the statement said “the CBOD has, in conjunction with international traders, been exploring trading modules that will ensure that a change in the specifications will not lead to an increase in ex-pump prices”.
The statement concluded by commending the NPA “for the sub-regional leadership it has shown in improving the fuel quality, not just for Ghana but West Africa as whole, and urges it to remain resolute in its pursuits”.
 

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