Swiss Commodity Traders Must Respect Africa’s Right To Health And Stop Shipping Toxic Fuel
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) today launches a report published by its partner Public EYE, titled "Dirty Diesel". The report reveals how Swiss commodity trading firms exploit lax regulatory standards to sell to African consumers fuel with high sulfur content. Produced by the trading firms themselves, these types of fuel have long been banned in Europe. They contribute significantly to the rapidly rising air pollution in African cities and jeopardize the health of millions of people. In a petition addressed to Trafigura, Public Eye and its West African partners call on the Geneva-based commodities giant only to sell fuel that meets European standards in all of its operations around the world. Based on three years of research, the "Dirty Diesel" study highlights for the first time the pivotal role played by Swiss commodity trading companies in Africa's fuel industry and reveals the scandalous business model behind a supply chain completely controlled by these companies in their multiple roles as producers, suppliers, and — in some regions —operators of gas station networks. In West Africa especially, Vitol, Trafigura and Addax & Oryx ruthlessly exploit weak regulatory standards and make the local urban populations pay with their health. Public Eye researchers drew fuel at local pumps in eight countries. The result was shocking: as the analysis revealed, the diesel samples contained up to 378 times more sulfur than is permitted in Europe. Furthermore, other toxic substances, such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, were also found in concentrations that are also banned in Europe. The 160-page report also shows that the trading companies do not only ship dirty diesel and dirty gasoline — and in some areas even sell it at their own pumps — but also produce both fuels themselves. On land or at sea, they mix up a petrochemical cocktail from refinery products and other components known in the industry as "African Quality". These toxic fuels are mainly mixed in the ARA-Zone (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) where Swiss trading firms have their own refineries and storage facilities. Many West African countries that export high grade crude oil to Europe receive toxic low quality fuel in return.