NPA grants 1500mg/kg sulphur waiver to local refineries

  • Imported fuels to remain 50mg/kg

Local oil refineries can now produce diesel and petrol with sulphur levels not exceeding 1,500 mg/kg, National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has announced.

The interim directive, which took effect yesterday January 20 and ends December 31, 2024, is to allow for an ECOWAS directive on Harmonised Specification for Automotive Fuels, the petroleum downstream regular said in a statement.

“The interim waiver’s implementation is to ensure that local refineries remain operational, while they introduce measures to meet the sulphur requirements stipulated in the ECOWAS Harmonised Specifications for Automotive Fuels which is 50 mg/kg,” it said.

Prior to this latest directive, the permissible sulphur content in petroleum products consumed in the country had been 50 mg/kg since July 2017 – but local refineries have been struggling to meet the target, hence need for the waiver.

The Authority however said the interim waiver will not affect diesel and petrol imported into the country, and that they’ll continue to comply with the sulphur requirements stipulated at maximum 50 mg/kg as contained in the ECOWAS Harmonised Specifications for Automotive Fuels.

The rationale for the interim waiver is to ensure that local refineries remain operational while they introduce measures to meet the sulphur requirements stipulated in the ECOWAS specifications.

The statement added that: “In view of introducing this interim waiver, diesel and petrol produced by local refineries will be allowed for sale and purchase at retail outlets; and may be co-mingled with imported products for sale to the general public.”

It also warned that application of the waiver to local refineries will not result in any price differentials in the sale and purchase of diesel and regular petrol at retail outlets with respect to their permissible sulphur content.

To ensure compliance, it said, where fuel from a retail outlet exceeds the sulphur content of 50 mg/kg, the dealer and Oil Marketing Company (OMC) shall produce documentation evincing the consignment was procured from a local refinery. Failure to produce the required documentation may result in the application of pecuniary penalties in an amount of GH¢30,000 on the OMC and/or dealer.

“The general public is hereby assured that notwithstanding the implementation of this interim waiver for local refineries, the NPA shall continue to ensure strict compliance with approved sulphur levels in the Petroleum downstream industry,” it further assured.

Prior to July 2017, the sulphur content of petroleum products in Ghana was 3,000 mg/kg. This was however reduced to 50 mg/kg, in line with a government policy announced by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. At the time, Dr. Bawumia explained that the decision was to help reduce respiratory diseases triggered by fuel toxins with high sulphur content. The 50mg/kg directive placed the country at the same level as what pertains in East African and Western countries.

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