LONDON – Nigeria will begin cutting the sulphur levels allowed in imported fuels in July, a change long sought by health and environmental campaigners, a year after an initial deadline, an official at state oil company NNPC said.
A man sits behind containers containing petroleum near the Area 10 shopping centre in Abuja, Nigeria May 25, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
West African nations had promised higher quality by July 2017 as part of a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)campaign, but only Ghana met the deadline.
Nigeria will lower the top level of sulphur in diesel to 50 ppm, from 3,000 ppm, by July 1, Anibor O. Kragha, NNPC’s chief operating officer of refineries and petrochemicals said in a presentation to the African Refiners Association (ARA).
Gasoline sulphur level cuts, a cost that will be borne largely by the government due to capped prices for the fuel, will start in October, moving to 300 ppm from 1,000 ppm.
Nigeria is targeting a cut to 150 ppm by October 1, 2019, Kragha said.
UNEP, the ARA and health campaigners have been pushing West African nations to ban fuels that have been illegal in Europe and the United States for years due to what they say are significant health problems associated with sulphur emissions – particularly in dense urban areas such as Lagos.
Kragha, in a presentation during ARA Week in Cape Town, said that while Nigeria is committed to cleaner fuel standards,“significant costs” has complicated efforts to meet the deadline.
The presentation said that the first shift to cleaner gasoline would cost $11.7 million per month, and the diesel reduction $2.8 million per month.
Because gasoline prices are capped in Nigeria, and NNPC itself has been importing the bulk of it over the past year via crude for product swaps, the government is likely to bear much of the initial costs for a cleaner specification.
Diesel prices are deregulated, meaning consumers will pay directly for the better-quality fuels. Nigeria’s own oil refineries will have until 2021 to meet the new sulphur levels, Kragha said.
Reporting by Libby George; editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith