The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may consider placing embargo on imported fuel with high sulphur content by December 31 this year, its General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Ndu Ughamadu, has said.
The Corporation had earlier planned to ban petrol with high concentration of high sulphur content between July 1, last year and last July 1, but was unable to do so due to some regulatory bottlenecks.
Ughamadu told newsmen that NNPC may implement the ban, adding that the issue is of great importance to the Federal Government.
Ughamadu said: ‘’The issue of banning the importation of fuel, with higher volume of suplhur and other imports that contain a considerable level of harmful materials, is sacrosant. The government, through NNPC is not leaving anybody in doubt, about its readiness to outlaw dirty fuels, since they are posing threats to human lives. Yes, the banning can still take place before the year runs out, at least for the sake of safety of consumers. 2017 has not ended, as it remains two or three weeks to go.’’
He said the process of making Nigerians use fuel, which contains lower level of sulphur is on-going, adding that NNPC has deciced to carry along quality control institutions like the Standards of Organisation of Nigeria(SON) on the issue to do a good job.
He said switching from fuel with higher sulphur content to lower one was global and that many countries in Europe and other continents have done so.
Ughamadu said NNPC is charged with maintaining standards in the industry, especially in fuel consumption.
Also, the former Minister of Environment, Ms. Amina Mohammed, said the Federal Government is working with the refineries to produce fuel with lower sulphur content in the near future, adding that the issue of enforcing the ban is of major concern to the government.
Ms. Mohammed, now United Nations Deputy Secretary, said some countries have dumped fuel with high sulphur content, pointing out that Nigeria cannot be an exemption.
She said NNPC has issued enough notices on the matter and that it can no longer delay the implementation. She said Nigeria will commence the enforcement of the 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur in fuel soon to enble Nigerians use safer and environmentally-friendly fuel.
She said new refineries that are coming up in Nigeria have been directed to produce fuel at 10 ppm to reduce its sulphuric composition.
She said when that happens, Nigeria will be consuming fuel with five per cent sulphur lower than that of South Africa, which has 15 ppm.
‘‘Some of the new refineries that are coming up have 10 ppm; South Africa is 15ppm. But for us, it is a West African problem and we hope that we can lead in West Africa by reducing it. So, there is no reason we can’t do it,’’ she added.
Ghana has slashed the sulphur content in fuel to 50 ppm for imported petrol and diesel, from 1,000 ppm and 3,000 ppm.
By this, Ghana has taken the lead in the West African sub-region, and it beholds on Nigeria to take similar steps to gaurantee the safety of its people.