The original idea for an association of African refineries was conceptualised in the late 1970s, which resulted in the first sub-Saharan African initiative – the Association of Refiners and Distributors of oil Products (ARDIP) in September 1980. This was 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 subsequently launched in 1999. This second initiative, which also included SAR (Senegal), TOR (Ghana), SOGARA (Gabon), SIR (Côte d’Ivoire), NATREF (South Africa), was ultimately not sustained.
In 2006, Mr Joël Dervain, then Managing Director of SIR, re-activated the drive for an association to promote the sharing of technical and commercial best practice 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 23rd March 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa. The name of this organisation was later broadened to the African Refiners & Distributors Association, which is known today as ARDA.