sharing in governance of extractive industries
Dr Mohammed Amin Adam Exec. Dire ACEP
Respiratory related diseases are second to malaria in Ghana, stakeholders at a day’s workshop have heard. Disclosing this at a seminar last week, Mr. Emmanuel Apoh of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the fight to attain good air quality have been going on a number of occasions across the West African Sub-region and the quest to attain good air quality as required for the sub-region will mean retooling most of the countries refineries.
He told the gathering that most refineries are old and needed to be upgraded to produce the desired 500 parts per million (ppm) in Ghana and the 10ppm as agreed regionally over time. Data on exact pollution levels and standards vary from country to country in the sub-region making it a challenge going forward. Respiratory related diseases are second to malaria in Ghana because Ghana relies heavily on motor transport than other alternatives such as bikes and trains
Mr. Apoh made these revelations at a workshop on high Sulfur Content levels in fuels imported that pollute the environment and has serious health hazards on ordinary Ghanaians. Discussants therefore called on government to strive to ensure that the sulfur content specifications should move from 500 parts per million (ppm) for the sake of the people and our environment to 10 ppm. They say already some Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDC) have and are actually importing the 10ppm levels and do not understand why government is pegging her at 500ppm.
To this end, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and allied bodies were mentioned to further work to bring down the poisonous sulfur content of fuel or diesel from the proposed 500ppm.
Organized in partnership with Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (Copec) and ACEP, the gathering also looked at whether Ghana has detailed, comprehensive program and the way forward in the sector.
Discussing measures and polices that should be taken to improve the quality of the fuels that is imported into Ghana, reduce impurities, the stakeholders from various sectors of the oil and gas industry, policymakers and Think Thanks agreed that attaining the 10ppm is not too difficult as some oil companies are already meeting the target. They agreed that the environment and the health of the ordinary Ghanaians are very important that Ghana should strive to attain higher standards.
The Executive Director of African Centre for Energy Policy ( ACEP) Dr Mohammed Amin Adam who gave opening remarks noted that despite the proposed 500ppm, government should be commended for taken the initiatives so far and raising to the challenge. He said his check at Ghana’s only refinery Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is not calibrated to produce the 10ppm. There was talk that its implementation will lead to job losses in the sector.
Dr. Adam explained that all the Political parties have acknowledged that expanding Ghana’s TOR to handle the 10ppm sulfur content levels. He said any investor to the sector will be looking for a national Policy in the sector that drives it and so it has to be discussed so that the parameters are right.
Giving details of a report on the hazards of high sulfur, Deputy Director ACEP, said it is not only sulfur that is contained in the fuels but others are Benzene, Aromatics and Manganese etc. all of which are regulated in other countries.
Presenting a chart to support the claims on the injury caused by high sulfur specifications, he said the scale of injury done to the health of Ghanaians has led to many deaths caused by polluted air which is second to malaria as earlier stated. Comparing to other countries such as Germany, Italy, France where the air ambient or air quality is high, he said Ghana needs to take the issue seriously and quick. He noted that high sulfur has led to high carbon in certain parts of Accra, the capital which is so repulsive. He disclosed that it has also affected the warranty of vehicles to the extent that some vehicle manufacturers are threatening to stop selling some brands to Ghana.
Officials from COPEC noted that the call for government to ensure that specifications were down to 10 ppm and not 500ppm, is because the lives of ordinary Ghanaians and public safety were very important. Copec is of the said that 500ppm that is being implemented here in Ghana is outlawed eight years ago and that it still contains the high levels of impurities such as dust, that damage vehicles life span and public health. He was worried that with some countries attaining 5ppm to 0pmm, it was strange that EPA and NPA were taking three years to attain the unacceptable 500ppm levels.
Copec vehemently rejected the dual 10ppm and the government 500ppm sulfur specifications that is currently being imported. And that 10 ppm is 10 ppm. It also kicked against the only lab in the country being housed by TOR. Calling for the separation from TOR as TOR is a major player and regulator at the same time. And that the lab should be handed over to Standards Authority as a regulator.
Adding their voice, a downstream player Petrosol asked consumers to be alert on the level of content at the pump when buying fuel and that each consumer can and should verify the quantity of fuel at the pump.
Source: Seibik Bugri
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