SON DG, Joseph Odumodu
By Francis Ugwoke
Worried about the damage adulterated petroleum products have had on their automobile brands, foreign car manufacturers have petitioned the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Director-General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, informed THISDAY that foreign car makers have complained formally to his organisation on how adulterated fuel is impacting the performance of their vehicles in the Nigerian market.
Odumodu said the manufacturers complained that what was worrisome is that Nigeria is the only country where they have received increasing complaints about poor performance of their brands, adding that this has been traced to adulterated petroleum products.
The SON DG said his organisation following the petition carried out a test which confirmed the allegation made by the foreign car manufacturers.
He also disclosed that it was this development that forced SON to begin testing of petroleum products, which results have shown insincerity on the part of dealers in Nigeria.
According to him, cars from the U.S., are the most affected by adulterated fuel. He added that during such tests, the organisation discovered that one of the reasons why kerosene has remained scarce is because many filling stations turn it into diesel to make higher profits.
According to him, over 70 per cent of most Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) is made of kerosene, adding that this has damaged many generating plants belonging to manufacturing firms.
He told THISDAY: “The reason we started testing petroleum products is from two levels. One, we received reports from car manufacturers that the quality of petroleum we have in Nigeria is affecting the image of their brands in the sense that if their products are running on the road, they do not perform very well on petrol that has been adulterated and that would mean that a consumer who buys the products after a while decides that the car is not good.
“Indeed, if you find people who imported their cars from the U.S., they usually have problems in Nigeria. It is because most of those products cannot withstand adulterated petroleum products.
“On second level, we undertake factory inspections and noticed increasing number of people complaining that their generators had broken down, especially those ones that are run on diesel.
“So the first thing we did was to ask companies to undertake tests abroad, and they tested and came back to inform us that the product, especially your diesel, was off-spec.”
Odumodu, who said that some of them tests were carried out in Germany, explained that following this, he had to get the permission of the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganaga to carry out further tests on diesel in Nigeria.
He added, “It was startling when we checked in Lagos in February, we discovered diesel with as much as 70 per cent of kerosene. When a product sold as diesel contains as much as 70 per cent kerosene, it means you are running that engine on kerosene instead of diesel.”
He disclosed that the attraction to turn kerosene into diesel could be traced to the price difference, adding that while kerosene officially sells at N50 per litre, diesel sells for N160 per litre.
He said his organisation is currently holding discussions with the Department of Petroleum Resources to be able to regulate the market and stop the ugly trend.
He maintained that his organisation has the mandate to move in to intervene if DPR fails to right the wrong.