The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority on Tuesday refuted claims by Dangote Refinery that oil marketers were importing dirty fuel into Nigeria.

The Executive Director of Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha, said this shortly after a meeting with the oil marketers and local refiners at the headquarters of the NMDPRA in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Vice President, Oil and Gas, at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Devakumar Edwin, had last Saturday accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria of frustrating the operations of the refinery.

Edwin had explained that since the US, European Union and the United Kingdom imposed a price cap scheme from February 5, 2023, on Russian petroleum products, a large number of vessels are waiting near Togo with Russian ultra-high sulphur diesel.

He had said, “They are being purchased and dumped into the Nigerian market. Some of the European countries were so alarmed about the carcinogenic effect of the extra high sulphur diesel being dumped into the Nigerian market that countries like Belgium and the Netherlands imposed a ban on such fuel being exported from its country, into West Africa recently. Sadly, the country is giving import licences for such dirty diesel to be imported into Nigeria when we have more than adequate petroleum refining capacity locally.

“The decision of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority in granting licenses indiscriminately for the importation of dirty diesel and aviation fuel has made the Dangote refinery expand into foreign markets. The refinery has recently exported diesel and aviation fuel to Europe and other parts of the world. The same industry players fought us for crashing the price of diesel and aviation fuel, but our aim, as I have said earlier, is to grow our economy.”

But reacting Ukoha, explained that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of state in 2020 endorsed a declaration adopting the Afri-5 fuel roadmap that requires that certain products have minimum 50 parts per million (ppm) litres of sulphur.

He said, “As an authority, what have we done since we came into being? We started by engendering compliance. We saw a downward trend up to December 2023. In December and in January of this year, we noticed a spike in the sulphur contents of products being imported. And we again now began strong enforcement from 1 February.

“I am happy to tell Nigerians that up until as we speak in June, the average sulphur content in every Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) that is brought into Nigeria is far below, the average is far below what the 50 ppm provision is in the law.

“With the local refineries, remember that declaration deferred it and so they continue to produce at a higher level. But we are not very anxious about that because even the new refineries that are coming in have within their design of the plant desulphurisation units that will see in the nearest future that sulphur going down as low as 10 ppm.

“There is no dirty fuel that we would encourage to come into Nigeria. I said there is no dirty fuel being brought in and I have given you the statistics for June. What we have on the average from imports have continued to go down from 200 on the average ppm and now we have it far below the 50 ppm that is in the law, provided under the law.

“And then with the refineries, there is no need to enforce that until the end of this year. But they themselves are already taking steps to see that is also guaranteed.”