In any case, the triggering factor behind all these African imports of gasoline and diesel fuel is the continent’s lack of refineries. Poten said that “refining capacity in Africa is very limited (around 2.2 million barrels per day) and has not changed much over the last 10 years. Most of the refineries in Africa are small (< 50,000 b/d), old and unsophisticated. They are in relatively poor condition due to years of under-investment and neglect and run at extremely low utilization rates. Some refinery expansions and new capacity is planned, but little is expected to come on stream within the next five years”.
For instance, Poten noted that Uganda, Angola and Nigeria are all expecting to have a total of three new refineries (one for each country) in the coming future, with Uganda’s one, primed to be the country’s first ever installation of this type. It will be built by a Russian firm and will process 60,000 bpd. Angola’s refinery, which is being constructed since 2012, is bound to be double that size, but will take until 2017/2018 to be completed and operational. Nigeria’s facility will be the biggest with a projected 400,000 bpd.
Demand-wise, the IEA forecasts that product demand in Africa will increase by a 3.3% per annum from 2014 through 2020 and so will its import requirements. This rise will be driven mainly by population growth. Total net product imports could rise to more than 2.0 million barrels per day before the end of the decade. “Steady growth in African product imports will continue to provide support to the medium and long range product tanker segments”, Poten concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide