Recent complaints of bad fuel that has hit the country over the past few weeks have been linked to the government’s infamous Gold4Oil policy.
Petroleum consumers, especially gasoline (petrol) car users have taken to social media to complain about having to change their car plugs or undergo forced maintenance services on their vehicles after visiting some Oil Marketing Companies to be served. The complaints which peaked in the months of September and October had some users share their frustrations on social media (X,) with some stating they had to change car plugs as many as 4 times this year due to challenges such as delayed changes in gears, jerking and misfiring plugs, leading to an overall poor engine performance.
I only buy from Goil and I’ve changed my spark plugs 4 times this year.— Cudjoe (@SenaJnr) September 14, 2023
Some Ghanaians on social media lament the negative effects of fuel purchased on their vehicle engines
The Regulator of the Petroleum industry, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), who acknowledged receipt of numerous complaints of reduced performance of vehicles attributed to purchased fuel from some retail stations in the country, insisted the fuel met the national standards for fuel specifications set by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).
The NPA however admitted that in recent times, fuels imported into the country contained levels of manganese closer to the maximum allowed limit of 18mg/l compared to the fuels with lower manganese levels hitherto. These high levels of manganese, it added were the root cause of the complaints received especially from turbo engine vehicles which recommend the use of gasoline that does not contain manganese-based additives.
The NPA added that in response to the issue, it had initiated steps to review the national fuel specification standard which will reduce the allowable manganese level in gasoline to 6mg/l, further directing all gasoline imports to comply with the proposed manganese standards.
But in an interesting twist, Honorary Vice President of Policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa, Bright Simmons, has tied the influx of high manganese-based gasoline to the Gold 4 Oil programme which seeks to barter the country’s gold for refined crude products in a bid to help stabilize the local cedi against the US dollar.
In a post on X, Bright Simmons writes; “Ghana’s gasoline/petrol & diesel regulator, NPA, says fuels being imported into Ghana nowadays have too much manganese. But they don’t say what has changed. Historically, Ghana imported most of its fuels from markets that ban or heavily limit manganese. Then “Gold 4 Oil” came.”
Ghana’s gasoline/petrol & diesel regulator, NPA, says fuels being imported into Ghana nowadays have too much manganese. But they don’t say what has changed. Historically, Ghana imported most of its fuels from markets that ban or heavily limit manganese. Then “Gold 4 Oil” came.🤦🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/n0l5MGGrkJ— Bright Simons (@BBSimons) November 22, 2023
Mr. Simmons will attach images of Russia’s Gasoline Specification which allows 18mg/l for regular fuel (RON 91) an insinuation that Ghana had started importing fuels from Russia following the Gold 4 Oil policy.
In the recent past, a number of Asian countries have had to grapple with a similar phenomenon. Honda Motors in 2018 complained to Pakistani authorities over high levels of manganese in the country’s fuel that it said was damaging its vehicles engines.
Japanese automotive manufacturers lodged a similar complaint, forcing authorities to announce a phase-out of the metal content by 2019.
But how dire is the presence of high manganese-additive in fuel to vehicles? A literature review of MMT effects on Gasoline Vehicles in the April 2016 edition of SAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants by S. Kent Hoekman and Amber Broch established an inversely proportional relationship between plugging time and Mn concentrations in modern vehicles.
The paper further explains how automakers in a bid to comply with stringent emission standards, employ control systems that include; the usage of catalysts with higher cell densities, higher surface areas, and thinner cell walls which allow rapid heating of engines at higher temperatures.
The end result it adds is an increased formation of Manganese Oxide (Brown-Black in colour) and the creation of deposits that easily adhere to the catalyst surface and worsening plugging issues.
A situation similar to the complaints by petroleum consumers in the country.
Government officials have been tight-lipped on the country of origin of the fuels under the G4O programme since the policy rollout in January this year.
Deputy Minister for Energy, Andrew Egyapa Mercer in February confirmed LITASCO (on whose behalf LUKOIL operates at least 4 refineries in Russia) as a supplier of the first batch of fuel delivered under the programme, but said he could not confirm the source of the refined product.
Andrew Egyapa Mercer speaking to Naa Dedei Tettey on Starr FM. (Feb 2, 2023).
The NPA avoided a similar question when it met the media for a briefing on the policy at about the same time.
This was despite evidence the SCF YENISEI vessel, which graphic.com.gh confirmed in an online report shipped the first consignment of fuel to the Tema Port, arrived from the VYSOTSK Island in Russia where LUKOIL-II holds a distribution and transshipment facility for the export of oil.
Data published by the Ghana Statistical Service barely two days ago seems to corroborate the assertions of Bright Simmons. Keeping in mind, the G4O policy was rolled out in January this year.
In the recently released Ghana 2023 mid-year trade report, Russia has become the second largest source of Ghana’s mineral fuels and oils import, providing nearly 15.0% of all oil imports; a sharp contrast to a similar trade report released in 2022 which had Russia making no appearance as a country source for the import of mineral fuel and oils.
Another trivial but striking coincidence is the incidence of complaints on social media linked to consumers of the largest OMC in the country, GOIL.
The partly state-owned company, which has the largest market share of over 20%, also receives the largest share of fuels brought into the country under the G4O programme, according to the NPA. It thus wouldn’t be far-fetched to presume they would be the most affected if indeed the fuels under the G4O policy were the source of the high level of manganese causing havoc to vehicles.
But beyond this, there are increased calls for the NPA to face some legal action. The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) has threatened a suit accusing the NPA of “reneging on its core mandate of ensuring every litre of petroleum products being sold at the various pumps meets the minimum standards” while others on social media are encouraging the car community “to actively participate in shaping laws and standards that affect the community”
The car community in Ghana must actively participate in shaping laws and standards that affect that community.
Government and its agents and assigns are selling bad fuel and nothing happens.
Car life cannot be reduced to just organizing car events.
Ayoo!— Donkor Selikem Korku Timothy (@DonkorKorku) November 23, 2023