Business News of 2014-08-16

Comment: Ghanaians want to know the true state of TOR

It Is regrettable that issues around a major and invaluable asset like the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is being treated with flippancy as stakeholders engage in claims and refutations of the true state of the Refinery in respect of its infrastructure and finances.

Since 2010 when Ghana commenced commercial production of crude oil from the Jubilee field, not a single barrel of oil from that field has been refined at TOR. Ghanaians found it very curious; resulting in arguments as to what was responsible for this aberration. The disputations over this matter continue to linger as key stakeholders keep on giving varying reasons.

While it has been claimed that the “Sweet Light” crude oil cannot be refined by TOR due to infrastructural inadequacies, the argument has been rebuffed by official TOR. When the inadequacies perspective first came up, it was debunked by no mean a personality than the then Chief Executive of TOR, Mr Ato Ampiah. In fact, Mr Ampiah contended, “In fact Jubilee crude will be one of the easiest to be refined by TOR – it is not different from Bonny or Brent and TOR has been processing Bonny and Brent for years so the issue is not that TOR cannot refine the crude – TOR can even with closed eyes refine the Jubilee crude.”

Subsequently, the issue was left on the back burner as officialdom chose to maintain a rather disturbingly constructive silence over it.

Recently, the matter was resurrected by a petroleum consultant who insisted that TOR would need an estimated $200 million for retooling before it could refine the high- grade “Sweet Light” crude oil of the Jubilee field.

The consultant explained that TOR was not built to refine the quality of crude oil the country was producing, hence the need for it to be upgraded to the current industry standard required for such a job. He maintained that TOR was meant to process lower grade crudes and could not refine oil from the Jubilee field unless significant investment was made; and that would cost the country huge sums of money. However, TOR staff, in subsequent interviews with the media, had rebuffed the consultant's assertion.

But in an interview with Citi FM, an Accra-based radio station, Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Alex Mould, brought another strand to the debate. According to him, it will not be profitable to refine the 'Sweet Light' crude oil at TOR, considering the current state the facility.

He expatiated that unless TOR was put into proper shape, it could not be allowed to refine crude from the Jubilee oil field. He further dismissed reports that GNPC was refusing to supply TOR with crude oil.

This back and forth arguments are not helping anybody as they rather muddy the waters. We of Public Agenda accordingly call upon Parliament to invite the Minister for Energy and Petroleum to the House to give the full details as to the current state of TOR. If Ghanaians are armed with the full facts, their hearts and minds will be set at ease, and could make informed suggestions as to the way forward for ailing TOR.

Source: Public Agenda
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