The controversial "Gold 4 Oil" deal that sees Ghana importing fuel from Russia is coming under renewed scrutiny as vehicles across the country experience low performance linked to high manganese levels in gasoline.
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) issued a statement on November 15, acknowledging the numerous complaints from motorists about reduced engine performance.
It is reported that while fuels meet Ghana's manganese limit of 18 mg/liter, imports now contain high levels closer to the maximum.
This has garnered reactions from some sections of the public who are of the belief that the current high manganese content in gasoline is a result of the gold for oil deal, which makes Ghana import fuel from Russia.
"So, in summary, #Gold4Oil has government buying fuel from Russia. Russia fuel has a high manganese content of 18 g/l, which is causing various problems to your cars. So yes, you will buy cheaper fuel, but you will use more than your saved cash to do repairs," media practitioner Edem Kojo of Accra-based GHOne TV noted via X.
Bright Simons, Vice President of Policy Think Tank IMANI Africa, observed, "Ghana's gasoline/petrol and diesel regulator, NPA, says fuels being imported into Ghana nowadays have too much manganese. But they don't say what has changed. Historically, Ghana imported most of its fuels from markets that ban or heavily limit manganese. Then "Gold 4 Oil" came."
To curb the situation, the NPA has directed importers to meet proposed lower manganese standards as it works with the Ghana Standards Authority to revise limits from 18 mg/l to 6 mg/l for regular gasoline and 2 mg/l for premium grades.
Gold for Oil
The policy, as explained by the government, is to allow the government to pay for imported oil products with gold in a direct barter with gold purchased by the Central Bank.
The move, announced by the Vice President to tackle the depreciation of the cedi against the US dollar and the rising cost of fuel prices, was explained as an intervention to help stabilize prices of fuel products as well as reduce pressure on Ghana’s foreign exchange, as the direct gold barter would be the mode of paying for imported oil instead of depleting the foreign exchange reserve.
The Gold for Oil program has since been implemented, with the first oil consignment arriving early this year, in January 2023.