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Business News of Sunday, 25 September 2016


Dirty fuel imports: Puma Energy supports firmer controls

As a major fuel supplier in Africa, Puma Energy says it welcomes Public Eye’s call for a tightening of fuel quality specifications in African countries, and will continue to support cooperation between governments and industry to achieve this goal.

Puma’s comment follows a revelation by the Swiss NGO through a three-year research project that importation of extremely harmful diesel into Ghana and Africa was on the rise.

According to the Public Eye report, which cited African nations as being the most receivers of these dangerous fuels, major European oil companies and commodity traders were exploiting Ghana’s particularly weak fuel standards to export the high-polluting fuels that they could never sell at the pumps in Europe.

Gian Valentino Viradez, Project Manager in charge of Development Policy at Public Eye, who presented the report at a forum in Accra on Thursday September 15, said the practice had damaging effects.

According to him, these fuels contain “nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and all kinds of pollutants that are known to be very bad for health”.

Mr Viradez added: “They cause chronic diseases and many other conditions such as lung cancer and this has to be taken seriously. We believe Africans have the right to know what they are consuming when they go to the pumps.”

Puma Energy, in a statement, said it has a strict policy of delivering petroleum products that meet the specifications set by national regulatory authorities.

“Permitted sulphur content in fuels varies from one country to another, and it is important to recognise that such regulatory requirements are a matter for national governments to determine, and not for the companies supplying these markets. Permitted sulphur content depends partly on the technology and age of vehicle fleets and equipment in these countries. Contrary to the simplistic and misleading assertions in Public Eye’s report, it is simply not possible for individual companies to supply fuel to a higher specification than that imposed by the national regulator, not least because in many of these markets fuel is supplied at uniform quality through a single logistical supply chain," it said.

“As a member of the African Refiners Association (ARA), Puma Energy supports efforts by national governments in Africa to reduce permitted sulphur levels in fuel and welcomed the agreement last year by five East African countries to introduce a lower-sulphur specification for diesel.

“We also support the discussions currently underway between the ARA and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about implementing the ARA’s Africa Fuel and Lubrication (AFRI) specifications in West Africa, and when the process is concluded Puma Energy will of course comply with the new specifications established. It is unfortunate that Public Eye makes no reference to this co-operative effort aimed at producing a substantive answer to the problem it has identified.”