Senate raises alarm over dumping of hazardous petroleum products

Sharon EboesomiJuly 3, 20245 min

Nigeria’s Senate resolves to probe regulatory agencies over indiscriminate dumping of hazardous petroleum products into the country

petroleum products

The Senate has called for an urgent need to investigate the continued importation of hazardous petroleum products and dumping of substandard diesel into Nigeria.

This is as it set up an ad-hoc committee to examine the pre-shipment and pre-discharge standard test parameters, adopted by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) with a view to uncovering loopholes exploited to get toxic cargoes into the country.

The committee is also charged with the responsibility of beaming legislative searchlight on the activities of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), including payments made to transporters in the last 10 years; 

This was sequel to the consideration and adoption of a motion raised by Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong (APC, Cross River South) during Wednesday’s plenary.

Sen. Asuquo noted that on 16th June, 2024, 12 diesel cargoes, conveying a total of 660kt of diesel, were exported by refineries to offshore Lome, Togo for further distribution to West African markets, mainly Nigeria. He lamented that the quality of the said diesel is below the Nigerian standard in terms of flash and Sulphur levels. 

He said “the diesel is priced below fair market value, which constitutes dumping on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which stipulates that countries are permitted to take measures to protect their local industries in the event of dumping. The WTO also recognises the impact of dumping on domestic industries, and therefore stipulates tariff regimes such as anti-dumping duties and import rection measures to ensure that domestic producers are not unfairly disadvantaged.”

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The lawmaker emphasised that, despite the fact that the NMDPRA recently revised the importation standards for diesel into Nigeria in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021, it is evident that they lack the authority to enforce adherence to the regulations. 

He claims that in spite of enough local production capacity, NMDPRA has persisted in granting import licences for diesel and jet. According to him, to the extent that our local refineries are able to meet Nigerian demand, a complete prohibition on the importation of diesel is the best way to safeguard Nigerians and the refineries from dumping.

The said ban on importation of diesel will be beneficial to the Nigerian petroleum Industry and indeed the entire nation, and as such, the NMDPRA should cease to import licenses in order to address all concerns. However, if the situation is allowed to continue, local production will have no option than to stop the commissioning of gasoline units and shutdown refineries until regulatory environment improves,” he said.

Speaking on the health effects, he emphasised that importing substandard diesel has an impact on both people and machinery because the toxic emissions cause respiratory ailments and other health problems in addition to shortening engine life, which forces drivers to deal with more frequent car and generator breakdowns and associated higher maintenance costs. He also raised concerns about the lack of proper protection and regulation against dumping, or exporting goods below fair market value, which would hinder the expansion and sustainability of domestic refineries and result in job losses and a downturn in the economy.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, said that in order to ensure transparency, the issues raised within the PIA should be reviewed.

He thereafter set up the committee to investigate how institutions across the importation and distribution chain failed to conduct quality sampling, shipped in products without auditing, port validations by the Nigerian Customs Service; National Maritime Authority (NMA) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON). 

The committee will consist of the Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) as the Chairman while Senators Yahaya Abdullahi (PDP, Kebbi North), Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno North), Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West), Ipalibo Harry-Banigo (PDP, RIvers West), Khabeeb Mustapha (PDP, Jigawa South-West), Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) Ipinsagba Emmanuel (APC, Ondo North), Ekong Williams (APC, Cross River Central), Tokunbo Abiru (APC, Lagos East), Osita Izunaso (APC, Imo West), Sahabi Yau (PDP, Zamfara North), and Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central)

The committee is expected to report back within 3 weeks.

STAR Check: Nigerians, particularly, constituents of Cross River South district, can keep tabs on the legislative performance of Sen. Ekpeyong throughout the 10th senate here. 

Sharon Eboesomi

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