Cape Town to host African Refiners and Distributors

African Refiners and Distributors (ARA) facing hard decisions, major changes as downstream oil industry meets in Cape Town, March 12-16

Major changes and hard decisions facing the downstream oil industry in Africa are high on the agenda of the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARA), which holds its 13th annual conference in Cape Town from March 12 to 16.

Prompted by oil company decisions to divest their assets and the emergence of international oil traders and foreign companies willing to invest in the infrastructures involved in the African downstream industry, members of the ARA, who represent major refineries, distributors and marketers throughout Africa, are mapping out a road ahead in which conditions could change radically.

The conference, this year titled ‘Moving Forwards’, is held annually under the auspices of the ARA – mouthpiece of the African downstream industry. The conference historically draws over 500 delegates

In an overview of the situation facing the industry, Joel Dervain, Executive-Secretary of the ARA says that the association’s choice of Cape Town for its conference – it has been held in the city ten times in the past 13 years – is apt, as South Africa demonstrates many of the challenges facing the industry.

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“Downstreamed hard decisions facing a road forward, in which conditions could change radically.  The conference is aptly titled Members are struggling to find the finance to upgrade their refineries, both for clean road fuels and the changing mix of demand, particularly for the marine market, after regulations for shipping change in 2020. To overcome this, the ARA has been pro-active, in laying down a Clean Fuels Policy to achieve the clean air that the continent demands.

“Large storage terminals and logistic investments across Africa are leading to competitive product supply costs from other refining centres around the world. The African refinery industry has to justify further and new investment, through economies of scale, logistic advantages, and the longer-term socio-economic benefits of the refining industry through job creation, economic multiplier effects, and security of supply.

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“The African oil distribution industry is working hard to meet global safety, engineering and environmental standards to avoid injury and fatalities both in traffic and plant accidents.

“And, perhaps most importantly, our industry must do more, in line with the recent initiatives launched by the African Union, so that it can continue to offer African young men and women a training ground in petroleum engineering and hope for a future long career.’

The impressive line-up of speakers at the conference include Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),Mr Momar Nguer, worldwide head of the TOTAL Group’s Marketing and Services division, Mr Pierre Barbe, Head of Africa for the VITOL group, and Mr Dabire Bayaornibè, Director of Energy for the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS/UEOMA)

Mr Ibrahim Talba Malla, President of the Association and Managing Director of the Cameroon refinery, SONARA said in advance of the conference: “Last year at our Annual General Meeting, we discussed extensively the challenge of bringing clean fuels to our continent. We concluded that the timing for talking was done; it was time for action and hard decisions. So it seems right that this year, with our policies on clean air, clean fuels and storage and distribution clearly in place that we take stock of where we are, and to make sure we are moving forwards to our objectives. Now that we, the African downstream oil industry, have so clearly defined our challenges; it is up to us to put the solutions in place within the time constraints we have set ourselves.”

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The ARA was formed in 2006 to provide a pan-African voice for the African oil supply, refining and distribution industry. The ARA represents not only refiners but also many product importers, storage companies, marketers, and government regulators. For further details see or contact the ARA on


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