June 30, 2023


4 min read

Lesotho taps into used oil market

Lesotho taps into used oil market

Petroleum Fund CEO, Thato Mohasoa

Story highlights

    Africa recycles less of its used oil and lags behind in re-refining it into base oils than other regions
    Most of the existing laws in the energy and environmental sectors need to be updated

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LESOTHO is contemplating to tap into the waste oil market in a move that is likely to contribute massively to economic stimulation as well as job creation measures, among others.

This was revealed on Wednesday during a used oil stakeholder forum that was organised by the Petroleum Fund.

Used oil is lubricating oil that no longer fits in petrol engines in cars or diesel engines in trucks, buses, tractors, and earthmoving equipment.

Hydraulic systems, gearboxes, and lubricating components in earthmoving equipment also generate degraded lubricating oil that is no longer fit for purpose. This oil then becomes what is called used oil.

Industrial lubricating oil used in gearboxes, air compressors, hydraulic systems, and machines in factories and mines also degrades due to ageing and contamination and ultimately becomes used oil that needs to be properly collected and disposed of.

As a responsible organisation, the Petroleum Fund desires to ensure that the petroleum products used do not adversely impact the environment.

In the last financial year, the Fund engaged consultants to carry out a feasibility study for recycling used oil in Lesotho.

The objective of the assignment was to investigate the impact of used oil disposal in Lesotho and the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility of reprocessing the used oil to turn it into a usable recycled product for the Lesotho market.

The study further focused on laws and regulations as well as permits pertaining to the collection and sale of used oil.

"It would be of great benefit if the business community adopted and implemented the recommendations of this used oil study," Petroleum Fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thato Mohasoa said during the event.

According to the study, the used oil refining process involves stages such as collection, delivery, and processing, and for this to happen effectively and efficiently, companies and labour are engaged.

Re-refining used oil means that there are fewer crude oil barrels being extracted from the ground, and as a result, the earth will not be strained by the activities that take place to extract more oil from the ground.

When outlining the used oil economic trends and perspectives, Kalebe Kalebe said during the event that recycling oil ensures that it does not end up in landfills and further means that urban council waste managers will require fewer man-hours to sort out waste.

Again, there won’t be water pipelines that need to be unclogged due to dirty used oil. This also helps lower the cost of working on drainage systems and clean-ups.

Kalebe said the global waste oil market size was estimated at USD 69.57 billion in 2022 and is expected to hit around USD 127.55 billion by the end of 2032.

The overall waste oil market is expanding as a result of rising industrialisation, rising usage of liquid waste in the industrial and automotive sectors, and rising energy consumption worldwide.

In addition, advancements in waste oil technology and ongoing government assistance will open up new prospects in the years to come.

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Africa recycles less of its used oil and lags behind in re-refining it into base oils than other regions, and South Africa and Egypt are the only countries with re-refining capacity at the moment.

In South Africa, the used-oil industry is thriving. Out of the 243 million litres of new oil sold per year, 120 million litres are collected for recycling.

However, currently only 10 percent of the used oil collected is re-refined back into base oil, with most being partially processed for fuel oil to be used in furnaces, kilns, and burners.

"Refining used oil is beneficial and helps improve the environment's quality. With refining, jobs are created, and further research into the uses of refined oil is conducted. These benefits and others show why we all need to seriously consider recycling and refining used oil. “However, we should take into consideration exogenous supply-side bottlenecks, such as a lack of steady used oil collection and supply to the refinery. Awareness campaigns and sensitization of the target end users of refined oils should also be conducted to create a viable market," Kalebe said.

Most of the existing laws in the energy and environmental sectors need to be updated, specifically in waste and chemical management. What would be required are regulations to guide the implementation of the laws, specifically oil management regulations.

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