Sulphurous fuels flow to Nigeria, others as they defer tougher rules


Nigeria and several other West African states are not expected to implement rules banning imports of sulphur-heavy fuels until Dec. 1 at the earliest after missing summer deadlines, drawing the ire of health campaigners pushing for cleaner air, Reuters reports.

Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin promised in late 2016 to ban the use of fuel packed with sulphur that is a major air pollutant, particularly in cities. Such fuel has long been illegal in Western nations and is increasingly outlawed in the developing world. But deadlines for bans in the four West African states keep being pushed back.

Nigeria, the region’s biggest fuel consumer, missed a July 1 deadline and instead launched a task force to examine the issue. Nigeria produces oil but lacks refining capacity so has to import most oil products. A Nigerian Environment Ministry official told Reuters the task force aimed to advise the government on a new standard by late September, with new rules possible by Dec. 1.

Nigeria’s standards organisation, which writes import rules, proposed caps of 50 ppm for diesel and 150 ppm for gasoline. State oil firm NNPC included prices for them in contracts to swap oil for products – at a cost of at least $25 a tonne more. But Nigeria did not codify the standards in law, or issue new specifications to importers.