Minister, TOR CEO spat disgraceful - PIAC
The Vice Chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mr Kwame Jantuah, has labelled as “disgraceful” the ongoing public spat between the Minister of Energy and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) over the planned conversion of TOR to a tank farm.
“I do not think it is a good thing for a Minister of State to be arguing with CEO of an energy company in public. It is disgraceful and it is wrong and that President Akufo-Addo must call them to book. It shouldn’t happen. I hope he will call them to book because it’s not right.”
PIAC is an independent statutory body mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana.
The TOR CEO, Mr Isaac Osei, and Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko, have been at each other’s throat since the minister announced in January that the government, in partnership with the private sector, would build a new oil refinery at the cost of $4 billion in the Western Region, paving the way for the conversion of TOR to a tank farm.
Mr Osei and his Board Chairman, in a united voice, kicked against the decision, wondering why the refinery would be scrapped at a time when it had installed a catalytic cracker with the hope to commence full operations.
“I didn’t come to TOR to preside over its demise. I have not come here to run this company by scrapping it,” Mr Osei said. “I don’t think converting it into a tank farm is the way forward.”
In his reaction, however, on the sidelines of the Licensing Bids Evaluation and Negotiation Committee, Mr Agyarko said Mr Osei had no locus to question the move.
He said: “If you are a minister, it’s beneath you to engage your subordinate on something both of you disagree on in public or on radio. And if you are under a minister and you disagree with his decision you don’t resort to the radio to vent your displeasure.
“So as a minister, I will not engage any of my subordinates over issues we disagree [to] on radio. It’s beneath me. I’m not being boastful or arrogant. It’s just not right. The President will be in town; I will engage him on the matter and move it on from there, not my subordinate,” he added.
Commenting on the development at TOR on ‘Starr Today’ on Starr 103.5 FM, Mr Jantuah, who doubles as the CEO of Africa Energy Consortium Limited, also kicked against the planned scrapping of TOR.
He said: “We need to really sit and think through some of these things because going forward and the way technology is taking over some of these things, 10 years down the line we will be wasting money.
“I feel that we should go according to the TOR plan. TOR wants to expand; let’s see how they can expand because they can expand taking into consideration developments coming forward, because most of the refinery products that we get from our refinery are for vehicles and if vehicles are going to change, then we should be very careful how we expand.”
In the meantime, the Minority in Parliament has vowed to reject moves by the government to make TOR a tank farm.
Speaking to ‘Starr News’, Minority spokesperson on Energy, Mr Adam Mutawakilu, said they would fight any attempt to convert TOR into a tank farm.
“You can’t convert our strategic asset to a tank farm,” he stated.