• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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ARDA, stakeholders canvas for strict regulations, standards amid aviation fuel challenges

Africa should balance energy security with transition concerns – ARDA

Stakeholders at the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA) are worried about cleaner fuels in the sector, insisting that the gross inadequacy of refineries across the continent posed serious bottlenecks to the implementation of cleaner fuel specifications.

This is also as they express concerns that Africa’s import dependent aviation fuel market and the drastic reduction in capacity utilisation across refineries on the continent may compound the Jet-A1 crisis in Africa.

While the aviation sector was grounded due to Covid-19 induced challenges, ongoing recoveries are being met with challenges as energy crises rock the global economy in an unprecedented manner thereby leaving Jet Fuel prices in Nigeria and other Africa countries at historic highs.

Speaking at an ARDA Storage/Distribution & Jet fuel Forum in Dakar, Senegal, monitored virtually, Executive Secretary, ARDA, Anibor Kragha said the continent’s growing population would continue to increase demand for fuels, adding that local refineries must be a priority to mitigate challenges.

According to him, improving local refining capacity within Africa would not only reduce supply chain shocks but enable the continent to enforce harmonised standards.

Speaking on demand ‘Demand, Production, Exports and Imports of Jet Fuel in Africa,’ James McCullagh, executive director at CITAC Africa, said three North African countries – Algeria, Egypt and Libya, have accounted for almost all export of excess Jet-A1 production in Africa, noting that while African Jet demand grew by 3.2mn mt (49 per cent) between 2006 and 2019, it slumped by 4.7mn mt (48 per cent) in 2020 owing to Covid-19.

McCullagh said steady growth is now being driven by expanding population but the 2019 demand levels may not be reached until 2024-2025, as steady growth is expected to now be driven by regional routes and population growth.

By 2040, CITAC forecasts demand of around 14mn mt (more than double 2021 levels), stressing further that while there were 16 African countries with operating refineries as of 2021, 12 had domestic Jet-A1 production, however the continent’s Jet-A1 production has since fallen by 48 per cent since it peaked at 8.7mn mt in 2013 but has now declined to stand at 4.5mn mt in 2021.

“North African production peaked at 5.2mn mt in 2013, it is now down by 41.2 per cent to 3.0mn mt in 2021. While Sub-Saharan Africa production peaked at 3.7mn mt in 2016, it is down 59 per cent to 1.5mn mt in 2021,” McCullagh said.

According to him, a key reason for declining production is the number of refineries that either closed permanently or went into long-term shutdown between January 2012 and December 2021.

In total this has reduced Africa’s operating refinery capacity by over one million barrels per day.

“North Africa dominates production. In 2021 total African production of Jet-A1 amounted to 4.5mn mt. North Africa dominated production with a total of 3.0mn mt. Egypt was the biggest producer in the region with a total output of 1.8mn mt. Algeria followed with 0.8mn mt. Total production in Sub-Saharan Africa amounted to 1.5mn mt. South Africa dominated regional output with 1.1mn mt,” McCullagh said.

He noted however that for Africa’s Jet-A1 output to rise 95 per cent to 8.8mn metric year by 2025 on the background of upcoming refineries projects; MIDOR expansion (Egypt), Assiut hydrocracker (Egypt), Hassi Messaoud refinery (Algeria), Astron restart (South Africa), Cabinda refinery (Angola), Sentuo refinery (Tema, Ghana) and Dangote refinery (Nigeria).

Read also: Downstream firms see aviation fuel revenue rise 72% amid crisis

Speaking on ‘Frequent Issues Impacting The Primary Logistic System: Refinery to Intermediate Terminals,’ Abdou Diop, Senior JIG Inspector at Vivo Energy, disclosed that 70 per cent of jet fuel on the continent are imported leading to some logistics constraints.

Diop noted that the situation in West African countries like Nigeria has been exacerbated by vessel suitability berths availability, which continues to trigger vessel turnarounds alongside limited oil jetties in Port areas, vessel discharge Manifold flow/Pressure and shore pipeline limited capability, demurrage claims, multi-Product pipelined and availability, laboratory discrepancies and product quality amidst other challenges.

He insisted that there are needs for a complementary process to ensure formal audits, standards and regulations, business understanding of aviation fuel supply and a need for continually updating to reflect changes in the supply chain.

Worried about possible lax standards, Mark Newstead, the General Manager of Joint Inspection Group (JIG), said product contamination could result in airport or in- flight incidents with consequences that could include loss of aircraft.

Stressing the need for operating standards, Newstead noted that the standards offer Operators and end-Users the best assurance that the product they are using still conforms to the specification while describing seawater contamination, Metallic contamination (thermal stability) and microbiological growth as worrisome in the sector.

Newstead said: “Critical parts of the Standards that must be followed include: “Cleaning of ships / trains / trucks, product sampling, segregation and separation of tanks, ensuring that “dedicated” systems really are devoted to the designated products.”

He noted that overall performance on standards is improving, but more work is needed as there are general deficits in areas that require understanding and knowledge of these standards.

Newstead noted that until the entire supply chain is at the same level, “we will continue to run a daily risk of product contamination and potential issue with an aircraft,” adding that the sector could improve if everyone works together in the same way.

Stressing the need for quality assurance in jet fuel, Head of Good Practice, Fuels & Fuel Handling at the Energy Institute (EI), Martin Hunnybun said the EI/JIG Standard 1530 (second edition – 2019) provides the industry benchmark for aviation fuel quality assurance.

Hunnybun also noted that the changes introduced by the second edition was based on widespread use to facilitate global uptake.

He further disclosed that a supplement on sustainable aviation fuel would be issued in October 2022, adding that the sector is gathering technical feedback for consideration in development of the third edition of 1530.