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» 23.09.2010 - Controversial presidential jet reaches Ghana
» 18.02.2010 - Ghana to host second IMF’s West African Centre
» 22.01.2010 - Ghana hosts Africa Investment Forum
» 13.01.2010 - Ghana gets €130 million from Germany
» 04.01.2010 - Ghana beefs up security at international airport
» 17.12.2009 - Ghana launches draft National Alcohol Policy
» 20.11.2009 - Ghana-EU sign first voluntary agreement on legal timber exports
» 21.10.2009 - Ghana and Burkina Faso urged to develop strategies on use of Volta River

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Ghana | Nigeria
Economy - Development

Dangerous gasoline offloaded in Nigeria, Ghana

afrol News, 24 June - A vessel from the shipping company Trafigura, "High Land", is currently in the Nigerian port of Lagos, loading off what is allegedly dangerous and poor gasoline, aimed at West African consumers. The vessels last stop was in Tema, Ghana, where it probably also loaded off bad gasoline.

afrol News has been given documentation about the movements of the giant vessel "High Land", flying the Marshall Islands' flag and owned by the Dutch-registered company Trafigura, a giant shipping company accused of being responsible for the toxic scandal in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

The vessel on 27 February this year left the Estorian town Paldiski. On other occasions, Norwegian state broadcaster 'NRK' has documented, Trafigura vessels have used a Paldiski-based chemical plant to chemically manipulate waste products from oil production to produce a fuel-like substance marketed as gasoline for vehicles in West Africa.

Most earlier transports from Paldiski to West Africa have gone directly to the port of Lomé, Togo. There, smaller vessels typically have offloaded quantities of 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes of the fuel, transporting it to neighbour countries in West Africa such as Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire, where local inspectors are manipulated into accepting the load as "gasoline" for the local market.

"High Land" however now is located in the Apapa port of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital. This is documented by a shipping register mapping the movements of larger vessels world-wide.

It remains unclear what the vessels is doing in the Nigerian port, but it is expected that "High Land" is loading off its cargo, either for the Nigerian market or for markets in neighbouring countries. Nigeria, though a major oil exporter, imports some quantities of gasoline due to lack in local refinery capacities.

The data on "High Land" also reveal that the vessel was in the Ghanaian port on Tema on 5 May this year. Tema is Ghana's main industrial port, and it is also where the country's oil-related industry is based. So far, also in the case of Tema, details on the operations of "High Land" are still lacking. While there is a refinery in Tema, Ghana imports most of its gasoline.

Investigations into the exports of bad gasoline to West Africa so far indicate that the US-originated fuel product treated in Norway and Estonia is marketed as normal gasoline in several West African countries. West African consumers have increasingly complained about poor quality gasoline, damaging their vehicles. According to specialists, the product marketed by Trafigura indeed could be responsible for damages.

Experts talking with 'NRK' reporter Synnøve Bakke say that, in theory, it is not possible to produce real gasoline from the waste product - so-called "coker gasoline" - treated by Trafigura in Norwegian and Estonians plants. However, 'NRK' has documented that this is just what is happening.

The same experts add that the end product - marketed as "gasoline" in West Africa - is highly unstable, not enduring sunlight exposure, and will cause damage to vehicles. It will also cause environmental damages due to high sulphur values, and can therefore cause human health damages. The product is strictly illegal in Europe and the US, but may in some cases be within legal quality and environment standards in some West African countries.

Trafigura is the world’s third largest independent oil trader. According to their own figures, last year's turnover amounted to US$ 51 billion. The company so far has denied any wrongdoings and claims to operate by strict ethical guidelines.

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