Fuel imports dip 12%, thanks to local gas

Fuel imports dipped 12 percent in 2017, from 4.4 million metric tonnes the year before to 3.87 million metric tonnes, as increased local gas production reduced LPG imports as well as crude imports for power generation.

Crude imports for refining were largely non-existent as the country’s only refinery (TOR) was held back by mechanical failures, the 2017 Petroleum Industry Report prepared by the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) indicates.

While an increased dependence on locally produced gas reduced dependence on crude for power generation, the official refined product’s import volumes fell “significantly” as a result of the gradual shift from export dumping to canoe and shore-smuggling – whose data are not captured as imports the report explains.

A total of 233,283mt of crude, equivalent to 1.67mn barrels, was imported in 2017. About 43% of this was committed to the power sector and 57% for refining.

But Energy Commission data show that the natural gas share of total fuel supply mix increased to 64% in December 2017 from 63% in November 2017, with liquid fuel accounting for the rest.

The share of natural gas supply from the WAGPCo in the total fuel supply decreased in December 2017 to 17% from 18% in November 2017, while supply from the Atuabo processing plant increased to 47% in December 2017.

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Natural gas supply from Atuabo accounted for 71% of total natural gas consumption in December 2017.

Out of the 64 licenced fuel importers, 34 companies imported products in 2017. Even so, the annual imports of 15 companies were not up to the standard single cargo size of 30kt.

Ten licenced companies were “totally inactive” in 2017, a situation CBOD said “legitimises efforts to rationalise the industry and ensure licencees deliver value to the economy”.

BOST loses number-1 position

The largest importer in 2016, BOST, dropped to fourth place after a fall in imports from 1.93 metric tonnes to 366,086mt in 2017.

“BOST was faced with major debt challenges arising from its import activities in 2016 and 2015. The accrued debt from trade losses compelled traders to withdraw their open account facilities and demand payment.

“Government, as a result, initiated efforts to have GNPC and the National Petroleum Authority offer BOST a bailout of sorts from its growing indebtedness to traders,” the industry report states.

Exports also dip

Refined product exports reduced by 75,996mt from 532,803mt in 2016 to 456,807mt in 2017, marking a 14% fall.

Naphtha exports, which accounted for 20% of 2016 exports, dropped considerably from 112,810mt to 194mt, marking a 99.83% drop.

RFO also saw a major drop from 69,832mt to 53,035mt. These occurrences accounted for the general drop in export volumes despite the 9%, 14% and 60% growth in PMS, AGO and LPG exports respectively.

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RFO and Naphtha are mainly locally-produced. The fall in refinery activity during 2017 accounted for the low production of both products and the consequential fall in their export volumes, the report indicates.

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