The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Hassan Tampuli, has directed that effective July 1, 2017, petrol and diesel imported into the country will have a maximum sulpur content level of 50 Parts Per Million (ppm).
He said NPA had to revise the initial start date of April 1, 2017, mainly to engage Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to make sure that the State-owned refinery as a national asset is not put at a disadvantage position.
In October last year, the NPA revised the national sulphur specification for diesel from maximum 3000 parts per million (ppm) to 500 ppm, effective January 2017.Speaking at the 4th Annual General Meeting of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Mr. Tampuli however said was not going to allow suppliers of fuel to Ghana to import diesel at 10ppm or lower.
According to the NPA, whilst the revised national specification will be at 500pmm, suppliers of fuel could import ultra-low-sulphur-diesels (ULSD) to Ghana as pertains in Europe.
It follows recent concerns over the harmful effects of substandard diesel which contained excessive sulphur contents than is permitted in Europe and other countries across the globe.
According to a report published last year by Public Eye, a Swiss-based NGO, which is partner to Ghana’s ACEP, some European companies have been shipping toxic diesel to many African countries, including Ghana.
The report revealed that the diesel samples contained up to 378 times more sulphur than is permitted in Europe.
Health studies show that exposure to diesel exhaust especially that of toxic diesel, primarily affects the respiratory system and worsens asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and lung function.
There is some evidence that diesel exhaust exposure can increase the risk of heart problems, premature death, and lung cancer.Throwing more light on the sensitive issue, he noted NPA had to push the date forward because the gazetting has not been completed yet by Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and, therefore, there is little legal basis to commence enforcement in April.
He stated that pricing reference for petrol which currently is based on Research Octane Number (RON) 95 and 10ppm sulphur would remain unchanged.
However, he said, the pricing reference for diesel would change from current 1,000ppm to 10ppm reference price.
Even though there are fears of some price increases, the NPA boss anticipates that the key competition deregulation has brought would even out any potential price increases which would ultimately benefit the consumer.
He was of the belief that this policy would help reduce carbon emissions and improve on environmental and health standards.