THE African Refiners Association (ARA) has urged African governments and regional organisations to intensify efforts to invest in regional pipeline, rail and port facilities to improve bulk distribution of petroleum products in the face of a 70 percent increase in imports by 2025.
The presentations and debate at the ARA Storage and Distribution Forum in Gaborone, Botswana on the 23/24 November concluded that the traditional heavy dependence on road transport could not possibly meet the 2025 forecast demand of 250 million tonnes (5.5 million bpd) and that pipeline and rail networks as well as new offshore discharge buoys (SBM’s) must be built. It also concluded that efficiency improvement is essential as the high cost of road transport as well as the lack of modern equipment, technology and best practices meant that Africa had the highest distribution costs in the world
The positive news discussed was that new pipelines, railways and SBM’s have started to be built, noting new pipelines in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, South Africa and re-starting in Ghana, new railways in Djibouti, Addis-Ababa, Angola (Lobito – Zambia), Kenya (Mombasa-Nairobi), and several others in development. New SBM’s are also being built inTanzania, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana.
Road transport issues featured often in the discussions as trucking is always the fallback option in Africa. However, there was much discussion about the high death and injury rate arising not only from tank truck accidents, but also from citizens attempting to scoop up gasoline from the resulting spills. The UN development goal of halving the road traffic accidents was cited as further evidence of the need to move away from road to pipeline and rail.
Regional harmonisation of product specifications and closer alignment of pump prices was discussed with East and South Africa being reported as the most advanced area and North Africa facing the most serious problems. Economic Regulation also featured in the programme with comparisons being made between the various models being employed across Africa.