On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, addressed a news conference at the Ministry of Information in Accra on measures taken to enhance the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
During the presser themed “Petroleum Downstream: Retrospect and Prospect”, Mr. Abdul-Hamid explained that the diesel imported into the Ghana was of high-quality, meeting the 50 parts per million benchmark set by the authority.
In a bid to convince the public that the country was consuming high-quality fuel, the boss of NPA explained scientific studies revealed fuel containing higher Sulphur content posed as a detriment to the environment.
In his submission, he stated that Ghana was the only West African country among other African countries consuming lower Sulphur containing fuel.
Fact-Check Ghana has verified the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority’s claim.
Claim: “In fact, indeed in West Africa, we [Ghana] are the only country that consume maximum of 50 ppm in terms of the Sulphur content of the fuel.”
Explanation: The level of Sulphur content is a measure of the quality of the fuel. High level of Sulphur lowers the effectiveness of emission control systems and contributes to air pollution.
As of 2018, Ghana was the only country in the West Africa ECOWAS region to take pragmatic steps to shift to cleaner fuels – according to an ECOWAS report.
The country’s decision was consistent with ECOWAS’ directive on a Harmonized Specification for Fuel (Diesel and Gasoline). The specification includes a ban on the import of ‘dirty’ fuel and setting the sulphur limit for automotive fuel at 50 parts per million (ppm).
Although it is true that Ghana’s maximum sulphur limit for importers stands currently at 50 parts per million (ppm), it is however untrue it is the only West African country consuming a maximum of 50 ppm high-quality fuel.
Automotive fuel is mainly gasoline (petrol) or diesel. Dr Hamid, in his statement, however, didn’t clearly state the fuel type (which is of high quality) that was consumed only in Ghana.
Fact-Check Ghana’s investigation on the claim sheds light on the sulphur limits for the two automotive fuel (petrol and diesel) sources in some West African countries.
The United Nations Environment Programme’s 2022 and 2021 reports on Global Sulphur Level Maps named three countries in West Africa consuming diesel with Sulphur content between 15 – 50 ppm. The countries are Ghana, Nigeria and Benin.
Fact-Check Ghana conducted further investigations through other sources including the Stratas Advisor, an energy research institute, which confirmed in its most recent report that Ghana, Nigeria and Benin are currently the countries consuming a maximum of 50ppm Sulphur limits in on-road diesel in West Africa.
Conversely, Ghana is the only country in the sub-region currently consuming a maximum of 50 ppm Sulphur content petrol – according to Stratas Advisor.
From the above explanation, even though Ghana is the only country consuming a maximum 50 ppm Sulphur content of gasonline, it is not accurate that it is the only country in West Africa consuming a 50 ppm Sulphur content fuel. Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid’s claim is therefore misleading.
The writers of this report are Fellows of the Climate Change Journalism Fellowship at the Media Foundation for West Africa.