Five west African countries ban ‘dirty diesel’ from Europe
Swiss commodity traders were accused in a report published in September by Swiss NGO Public Eye of exporting fuels to west Africa with sulphur levels that are sometimes hundreds of times higher than European levels.
The report accused oil companies of “regulatory arbitrage”, allowing traders and companies to exploit weak standards to export cheap, dirty fuels in a process that Public Eye said was maximising profits at the expense of African’s health. High-sulphur fuels are major contributors to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.
Last week Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast agreed to ban imports of high-sulphur diesel fuels as part of an initiative organised by the UN Environment Programme. Permitted levels of sulphur in imported diesel will fall from as high as 3,000 parts per million (ppm) in some of the countries to 50 ppm. In Europe the maximum has been 10 ppm since 2009.