East Africa Gets Serious about Waste Oils

    EAST AFRICA Gets Serious AboutWASTE OIL

    East Africas urbanization, population and industrialization are expected to increase steadily as regional economies expand in the medium term. These changes will create a bigger market for lubricants, as well as demand for sustainable systems to recycle an anticipated rise in lubricant waste. Recent budget proposals by Finance Ministers Henry Rotich of Kenya, Saada Mkuya Salum of Tanzania and Matia Kasaija of Uganda committed additional funding for each countrys transportation, industrialization and power generation sectors, which are top producers of waste oils because of the large amounts of motor, transmission, hydraulic and cutting oils required.

    Kenya, for example, will invest U.S. $1.28 billion in the next year on road transport infrastructure, U.S. $1.14 billion in new standard gage railway and U.S. $125 million in geothermal power generation, sectors that are expected to increase demand for lubricating oils. Tanzania has announced plans to increase power generation from the current 1,000 megawatts to 4,700 MW by 2025. The country also expects to spend an estimated U.S. $1.1 billion on transport infrastructure.

    Landlocked Uganda projects 2,000 new electricity transmission lines across the country, 1,938 kilometers of medium and 1,633 km of large voltage distribution lines. Power transmission agencies and distribution companies use huge amounts of oil for cooling, insulation and arc protection. The transmission and distribution processes also generate waste oil during regular testing.

    However, it is the growth of the regions automobile industry that is set to increase current levels of used lubricants in East Africa, although no firm projections are available on the waste oil output. According to BMI Research, Tanzania anticipates growth in new light vehicles sales to average 22.8 percent between 2015 and 2019, despite the analysts assessment of the market as erratic, with 7,641 new light vehicles expected to be sold every year up to 2019. The research firm said, Although new vehicles will remain unaffordable to the vast majority of Tanzanians, used cars will continue to be a significant market.

    Kenyas National Bureau of Statistics reported that 102,606 new vehicles were registered in 2014, up from 97,017 units in 2013, a 9 percent increase. The number of commercial panel vans and pickups increased by 28 percent from 9,818 units in 2013 to 12,568 units in 2014, said KNBS Director General Zachary Mwangi.

    Vehicle Growth

    Growth of the motor vehicle population in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda means increased demand for lubricating oils and greases and a commensurate increase in waste lubricants to be disposed either through recycling, burning, discarding in landfills or discharged into water streams.

    According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), demand for lubricants and greases is expected to be stronger in Africa due to ongoing industrialization and rising car ownership rates. Increasing car ownership means more service stations and new car showrooms, the major sources of waste oils such as gear lubricants, crankcase oil, transmission fluids and hydraulic oils. Engine oil will remain the largest segment while process oils will grow the fastest, said UNEP.

    Oil and gas exploration in East Africa is emerging as the next frontier for increased use of lubricating oils and greases that could lead to generation of more waste lubricating oil and demand for more effective systems of managing the output. Exploration is being led by international companies such as Total SA, ExxonMobil, Tullow Oil, Statoil, BG Group, China National Offshore Oil Corp., Ophir Energy and Petrobras.

    These companies use lubricants for numerous applications, including drilling, wirelining, production operations and well servicing. In addition to the deployment of equipment and machinery for offshore and onshore drilling and development, the companies also manage huge fleets of commercial vehicles for their operations.

    With an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of oil resources, Uganda is evaluating bids for the next round of oil exploration in Albertine Graben, a move that is likely to increase demand for lubricating products in coming years. The expanded exploration is expected to generate more waste oils in need of disposal.

    The Ugandan government has licensed South African waste management company EnviroServ to manage waste from the oil drilling operations. The firm is to own and operate a 1 million cubic meter capacity plant in oil-rich Hoima and is expected to be fully operational by 2019.

    EnviroServ Director for International Operations Rhyno Gouws has been quoted as saying the waste treatment plant in Uganda could also treat waste from Kenya and other East African Community member countries. Gouws said the companys plant in South Africa currently handles waste from several southern African countries. The specialized onsite laboratory will have equipment to analyze and identify incoming waste, which will dictate the method of treatment and disposal, he said.

    U.K. natural gas explorer, BG Group, which operates Tanzanias offshore Block 1 and 4, has discovered an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of gross resource. The company has teamed up with Statoil, Ophir and Pavilion Energy to construct a plant to process waste generated from their operations.

    When we entered Tanzania, we recognized there was an issue of management of waste generated by our operations in the Mtwara port. With other oil and gas companies operating out of the port, we took steps to develop a solution, BG Group said on its website. International oil companies led by Frances Total SA, have contracted Supply Base Solutions to help in the disposal of drilling waste while IVE Design has been picked to provide technical back up.

    Although it is not easy to confirm how much lubricant the oil and gas exploration companies operating in East Africa are expected to use, the move by BG Group, Statoil and other international companies to launch waste management programs in Tanzania and Uganda indicates that they are keen on sustainable waste oil management.

    Automotive Slow to Respond

    The concern for environmental protection by exploration companies in East Africa, however, has not filtered down to other lubricant consuming segments such as the automobile sector whose service centers and commercial engine fleets remain the largest sources of waste lubricating oils.

    Studies in Kenyas Nairobi, Kampala and Kitale found high levels of waste oil dumping, exposing huge populations to contamination from the highly toxic ingredients. In Kitale, a study done four years ago and published in the International Journal of Current Research found that 17 petrol filling stations and 76 garages that service vehicles generated oil and filter waste, but up to 56 percent of the hazardous product was indiscriminately discarded while up to 20 percent of the oil filters were left to accumulate in the environment.

    Like most local authorities in East Africa, Kitale did not have stated regulations for management of oil waste. Poor oil waste management practices could be contaminating surface and ground water by runoff or infiltration, especially during precipitation, the study said.

    A similar situation exists in Nairobi, according to a study published last year by the University of Nairobi, which estimated that up to 200 million gallons of used motor oil in Kenya are improperly disposed by being dumped on the ground, tossed in the trash [ending up in landfills] and poured down storm sewers and drains.

    The study said Nairobi has an estimated 452 petrol stations – equivalent to 32 percent of all stations in the country – and several garages concentrated along the Nairobi River, all servicing of vehicles with varying amounts of oil and filter waste outputs. Most of these garages are makeshift structures erected on road reserves, river banks and back streets, with the highest concentration of the garages along Nairobi River, where oil is directly disposed into the river, and hence accounts for the highest water pollution in the region.

    The study also found that used oil is used for dust suppression, lubricating equipment like wheelbarrows, marking fields at schools, mosquito and termite control, and as wood preservative. The rest is dumped.

    Though the greatest challenge faced by all oil marketers is used oil disposal, a solution … must be put in place as a matter of urgency, the study recommended. The country lacks a legal framework that encompasses handling of harmful waste, with the exception of toxic and radioactive waste. The study noted that oil marketing companies are making an effort to collect used oil, but proper disposal is not yet in place.

    The Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) General Manager Wanjiku Manyara said there is now a legislative framework in place to manage waste lubricating oil and that less than 10 percent of lubricant oil products become waste oil. The oil marketers under the Petroleum Institute of East Africa set up the safe waste oil disposal initiative to ensure that there is efficient collection and disposal of used oil in compliance with the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, she said.

    However, despite the legislative framework, Kenya faces the challenge of regulating entry into the market of small oil marketers that may not comply with the required health and safety standards. According to Vivo Energy Managing Director Polycarp Igathe, Kenya could have as many as 104 oil marketers, which is a national issue and cause of concern as there are cases already of many oil products being adulterated, leading to sever breach of safety and standards for the products.

    For waste oil disposal, PIEA recommends thermal treatment, a process that involves the use of high temperatures to reclaim or destroy hydrocarbon-contaminated material. It is the most efficient treatment for destroying organics, and it also reduces the volume and mobility of inorganics such as metals and salts, said Manyara, adding that additional treatment may be necessary for metals and salts, depending on the final fate of the wastes.

    Lubricant users can also manage waste lubricating oil through the stabilization and solidification method, especially for oil filters, which she said reduces the hazard potential by converting contaminants into their least soluble or toxic form. Solidification encapsulates the pollutants in a solid with high structural integrity. It decreases the surface area exposed to leaching and isolates the wastes. The resultant solid is turned into useful materials for construction, although with some long term effects due to land filling.

    The East Africa region, and Kenya in particular, does not presently have the capacity to recycle waste lubricating oils for electricity generation, according to Manyara. For a company to recycle the used oil to a level that meets the quality of the Kenya Bureau of Standards will require huge costs, making it economically viable only in countries such as the United States where the quantity of waste oil generated is high, [as is] the incentive for recycling, she added.

    Elsewhere in East Africa, streamlining of waste lubricating oil collection systems is still a problem because the generation points are widely distributed, and there may not be an economically viable way to collect the waste. As UNEP noted in its report, The necessary infrastructure may not exist, and there may not be a ready market for waste oil.

    However, Manyara said, waste oil can be burned for energy recovery in boilers, industrial furnaces or in hazardous waste incinerators while some can be diverted to the cement industry to power kilns. Going forward, companies licensed in East Africa to manufacture, blend, import and distribute lubricants may be compelled to subsidize waste oil management programs, including setting up and monitoring drop-off locations and curbside collection points.