Environmentalists support lower sulphur level for imported fuels

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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Two renowned environmentalists have endorsed plans by the Nigerian Government to lower permissible sulphur levels in imported fuels

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, recently announced that sulphur levels would be cut down in imported petrol and diesel from July 2018.

According to NNPC, the new limit of sulphur in diesel would be reduced from 3,000 Parts Per Million (ppm)  to 50 ppm, by July 1,2018; while the sulphur cut in petrol would be from 1,000 ppm to 300 ppm beginning in October this year as Nigeria plans a further cut to 150 ppm by October 1, 2019.

Reverend Nnimmo Bassey and Alagoa Morris, the environmentalists, who spoke in Yenagoa, the capital city of oil rich Bayelsa State, noted that the proposed regulation would reduce the emission of sulphur, a toxic element into the environment.

Bassey urged the Nigerian Government to speed up the race for cleaner fuels as the country was already behind schedule, noting that a United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, campaign slated the target date for July 2017.

Nnimmo Bassey
Rev. Nnimmo Bassey

“It is sad that we are lagging behind other countries and regions in producing or importing cleaner petroleum product. There should be collaboration and synergy amongst government agencies for the overall good of the country,” Bassey said.

Refinery Capacity

Also, Morris, Head of Field Operations at Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, noted that it was time to increase local refining capacity as Nigerian crude oil has low sulphur level.

Alagoa Morris
Alagoa Morris

According to him, foreign refineries refer to Nigerian crude streams as ‘sweet and light’ due to the ease of refining.

“If Nigeria’s crude oil is referred to as sweet and light due to the low sulphur level, it invariably means that we should expand the capacity of our own refineries so we can achieve lower sulphur levels,” said Morris.

He urged the Nigerian Government to focus on renewable, cleaner energy, saying “it would be better to fix our refineries and stop importation of refined products as this makes more economic sense than what is currently obtainable due to the aggregate of negative consequences.”