…Petrol from illegal refineries in Niger Delta is better than imported petrol
A new laboratory analysis has revealed that petrol imported from Europe to Nigeria is of low quality compared to the one refined from illegal refineries in creeks and swamps of the Niger Delta.
Most of the oil companies in the country such as Chevron, Exxon, Shell and others extract and export up 2 million barrels per day of high quality, low sulphur “Bonny Light” crude from the Niger Delta. It is an infinitesimal percentage of this oil locally refined as a result of its four state-owned refineries are either closed or underperformed.
This leads to the foreign dealers exporting to Nigeria about 900,000 tonnes of low quality ‘”dirty” fuel annually. These European refineries and hundreds of small-scale artisanal refineries produce high quantities of illegal fuel from oil stolen from the channel of oil pipelines interwoven in the Niger Delta.
This indicates the fact reported by an international resource watchdog group, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) that Nigeria has some of the hazardous air pollution in the world, with dense clouds of choking soot covering gridlocked cities, that lead to poor health conditions as well as damaged vehicles.
The intense of toxicity of the samples of oil imported to the country from Europe is 204 times in diesel and 43 times in petrol higher than European Union (EU) pollution limits, which come as s surprise to researchers that took the samples to government-licensed filling stations in Port Harcourt and Lagos.
The Laboratory did not conceal the pollution of the black market fuel but showed that its quality exceeds that of the imported one.
“Our research suggests that Nigeria is having dirty fuel dumped on it that cannot be sold to other countries with higher and better implement standards. The situation is so bad that the average diesels sampled are of an even lower quality than that produced by artisanal refining camps in the creeks of the Niger Delta,” said Florence Kayemba, SDN programme manager.
According to the SDN, it is disturbing to discover that levels of particulate substance in Port Harcourt and Lagos are 20% worse than Delhi in India, which is the most populated city in the world, where emergency levels of photochemical smogs are rampant.
“The Niger Delta already suffers environmental, health and livelihood impacts from decades of oil spill pollution, gas flaring and artisanal refining. This research indicates that it not only experiences the repercussions of producing crude oil, but also in the consumption of dirty official and unofficial fuels,” said the report.
An anonymous industry which tracks legal and illegal oil cargo movements disclosed that an estimate of 80% of Nigeria’s petroleum come from the Netherlands and Belgium, as the two countries have some of the biggest refineries in Europe.
This corroborates the allegations made in a 2016 Public Eye investigation and a Dutch government report in 2018, that European refineries and commodity brokers were diluting petroleum with benzene and other carcinogenic chemicals to create fuels hundreds of times over European pollution limits for the weakly-controlled African economy. It thus leads to significant particulate pollution, damage to vehicles, and negative health issues for populations.
Ghana has drastic steps to control this hazardous issues by reducing sulphur from 3,000 to 50 parts per million, but Nigeria has debated that it needs to adapt. Meanwhile, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin in 2017 resolved to stop the imports of “Africa quality” oil products as part of a United Nations environment programme initiative.
“This is even more concerning at a time when Nigeria is facing an outbreak of coronavirus. High levels of pollution and pre-existing respiratory and other health conditions may increase the risk that COVID-19 poses to the health of the population,” said Matthew Halstead of Notics, which conducted the laboratory research.
The solution at hand suggests that the country should look away from these European “dirty” fuel because of the recent drop in oil prices resulting from COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the growing rate of the illegal artisanal refineries producing 5-20% of fuel in Nigeria should be used, which is better in quality that the toxic, hazardous European fuel.