The original concept for an association for African refineries was originally conceptualized in the late 1970s which translated to the first sub-Saharan African initiative – Association of Refiners and Distributors of oil Products (ARDIP) in September 1980 – led by SIR refinery of Cote D’Ivoire with their counterpart refineries in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Gabon. The ARDIP initiative was short-lived and a second similar initiative, led by SONARA of Cameroon, was launched in 1999. This second initiative, which also included SAR (Senegal), TOR (Ghana), SOGARA (Gabon), SIR (Côte d’Ivoire), NATREF (South Africa), ultimately was not sustained.
In 2006, Mr Joel Dervain, then Managing Director of SIR, re-activated the drive for an association to promote sharing of technical and commercial best practices amongst African refiners and their stakeholders. With support from his counterparts at SONARA, SAR, TOR, SOGARA and NATREF, the African Refiners Association (ARA) was founded on March 23, 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa.
“The ARA should be at the service of its members, a kind of Refiners’ club. It must be flexible, private, non-governmental and not budget-intensive. It must provide its Members with free access to a common base of technical, economic and human resources.’’
– Mr Joel Dervain
The ARA established an Executive Committee to oversee the Association’s operations, a General Assembly comprising its Members and several Work Groups to promote sharing of best practices amongst Members. The AR was set-up as a non-profit organization with operational headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The ARA gives a unified voice to African refiners, independent importers, distributors and regulators across the entire value chain of the African Downstream oil sector. The name of the ARA was changed to the African Refiners & Distributors Association (ARA) in 2017 to reflect the importance of the complete Downstream oil supply chain.
The Association’s diverse membership reflects the geographic and cultural diversity of the African continent. The role of the ARA includes promoting exchange of best practices amongst Members, Sponsors and other key stakeholders. In addition, the ARA champions efforts for efficient, economic, safe, secure and sustainable investments across the African Downstream supply chain.
Presently, the ARA’s Members include refineries, terminals, pipeline operators, importers and regulations. The Association’s Sponsors comprise both African and global industry leaders in the Downstream oil industry.