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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Oil And Gas Majors Are Shipping ‘Dirty’ Fuels To African Countries

Oil and gas majors in Europe have been selling low-quality diesel and gasoline to African countries, according to the findings of a three-year investigation conducted by a Switzerland-based advocacy group.

Public Eye published the findings on Thursday, accusing the firms involved of using an “illegitimate strategy” to profit off of “African quality” fuels. The allegations did not involve any legal violations.

“The trading companies not only ship dirty diesel and dirty gasoline — and in some areas even sell it at their own pumps — but also produce both fuels themselves,” the report says. “On land or at sea, they mix up a petrochemical cocktail from refinery products and other components known in the industry as "African Quality.”

Swiss traders Vitol and Trafigura were named in the report for their practices.

Vitol called the report "inaccurate and misinformed,” in a statement to the AFP, insisting that African governments held the responsibility for monitoring their own fuel standards.

Public Eye tested fuel samples from shipments sold in eight African countries: Angola, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Zambia.

The group found heightened sulfur levels in gasoline destined for the selected African countries. Sulfur content for refined fuels headed to Europe is capped at 10 parts per million, while, African regulators execute far more relaxed quality standards.

Related: Why The Bankruptcy Wave In Oil & Gas Isn’t Over Yet

The lower quality fuels cause negative health and environmental consequences across the continent, the report contends. Better quality fuel could lower healthcare expenses and protect vehicles from internal harms.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that sulfur in gasoline “impairs the effectiveness of emission control systems and contributes to air pollution.” The substance is a natural part of crude oil, unless it is removed in the refining stages.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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