01 January 2017, Maputo — The Mozambican government has guaranteed that all is ready to switch to the use of low sulphur diesel as from June 2017.
Currently, the sulphur content of the diesel Mozambique imports is 500 parts per million (ppm). This is to be replaced by diesel with only 50 ppm of sulphur.
Addressing a Maputo press conference, Moises Paulino, the national director of hydrocarbons and fuel in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, said the purpose of the change was to reduce pollution and improve environmental conditions.
The government wanted to modernise, said Paulino, and was also aware that many refineries are simply no longer producing diesel with 500 ppm sulphur.
The advantage of switching to low sulphur diesel, he added, would be felt not only in terms of a cleaner environment but also in greater efficiency of vehicle engines.
Engine performance improves because 50 ppm diesel has cleaner and more effective combustion properties than 500 ppm diesel. Also, the low sulphur diesel causes less wear and tear and therefore prolongs engine life.
This is a matter of basic chemistry. Sulphur oxidises during combustion and forms sulphur dioxide, while nitrogen from the air is also oxidised, forming nitrogen oxide. Both of these oxides react further and form acids which damage engine components and adversely affect lubrication. Thus with lower sulphur content, there should be less oxidation and less damage to engines.
“This will lead to better performance of our engines. It will increase their useful life and improve fuel efficiency”, said Paulino. “So the change is going to occur and we are coordinating it with the fuel distribution companies”.
Paulino said that the switch to 50 ppm diesel will have no impact on the cost of diesel at the fuel pumps.
Mozambique imports every year about 1.5 million cubic metres of petroleum products and 70 per cent of this is diesel. “Thus when we migrate from 500 ppm to 50 ppm diesel, there will be a very large positive environmental impact, for vehicles and for public health”, said Paulino.
The switch to low sulphur diesel is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Eventually, there will be a further shift, to diesel with a sulphur content of only 10 ppm.