COPEC demands apology from Energy Minister

By Kweku Antwi Jnr
Boakye Agyarko, Energy Minister
Boakye Agyarko, Energy Minister

Chamber of Petroleum Consumers-Ghana (COPEC) is calling for withdrawal and apology from the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, over a comment he made on the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) at the recently held Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas.

Mr. Boakye Agyarko at the said conference is on record to have told the World Oil Community and Investors, the Tema Oil Refinery is on its way out as the refinery is set to be collapsed and turned into a tank farm for only the storage of oil.

This comment, according to COPEC, demands an immediate withdrawal and apology to the people of Ghana from the Energy Minister.

A statement signed by the Executive Secretary of COPEC-Ghana, Duncan Amoah, on Monday May 14, 2018 and copied to PrimeBusiness said “it must be placed on record that, the Refinery is already into tank farm or depot operations as comes with several tank farms across its site and already holds stocks of oil both from the refinery itself and for other players who import oil into the country”.

Read below the full statement:

THE FATE OF TOR-MINISTER MUST WITHDRAW AND APOLOGISE

The fate of Ghana's only Refinery, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) hangs on the line following an unfortunate statement from the Energy Minister-Mr Boakye Agyarko at the recently held Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas.

Mr Boakye Agyarko at the said conference is on record to have told the World Oil Community and Investors, The Tema Oil Refinery is on its way out as the refinery is set to be collapsed and turned into a tank farm for only the storage of oil.

There subsequently has been some heated debates over suggestions the Board and Management of the Refinery was indeed consulted on this egregious position by the Minister in scrapping the refinery into a tank farm, with  a flat denial of same by TOR of any such consultation taking place whatsoever.

It must be placed on record that the Refinery is already into tank farm or depot operations as comes with several tank farms across its site and already holds stocks of oil both from the refinery itself and for other players who import oil into the country.

What this therefore means is that, the Minister who is expected to lead efforts at revamping the Refinery has no plans at all in helping revamp the refinery other than to cheaply scrap it whiles asking investors to come put up another one in the Western Region,

The Ministry from its posturing and subsequent communications simply intends to get the refining components of TOR (ie the Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracker, Crude Distillation Unit and the Boilers) dismembered and and scrapped completely whiles maintaining the numerous farm tanks.

The over $1billion refinery plant has had its own challenges since inception with most of these challenges stemming from interferences by politicians over the period and once again it is at crossroads, this time for ultimate survival or complete collapse.

The current state of TOR is simply as a result of political  leadership having no clear vision on adding onto the production capacity of the refinery since some several years ago though that can be corrected with sound management practices and further investments.

One would have thought that our political leadership will place some further emphasis on retooling and investing smartly in the state's only refinery to make it more efficient to serve Ghanaians and the subregion following from the advent of Ghana now exploring and producing Oil in commercial quantities but the reverse seems the case.

The most significant challenge of the Refinery as of today has to do with some additional investments in replacing some of the obsolete equipments to improve efficiency and profitability of the refinery but the Energy Ministry seems rather in a hurry to get it scrapped so as to commission a new one.

Like earlier mentioned, the refinery since its inception in 1963 has gone through various phases, challenges and has had its successes over the past it's 55 years of existence and the least anyone can do is to help it live to its fullest potential by way of retooling and expansion and not scrapping as is being suggested by the Mr. Boakye Agyarko.

We believe the Energy Minister if he had truly consulted and interacted with the Board and Management of the Refinery would have known better than to go telling the international community of his intention to collapse the existing refinery completely and turn it into a tank farm since the plant is even in operation as of this day and time and also in talks with some investors for retooling.

We believe the refinery is an asset to the good people of Ghana having served us all so well albeit its numerous challenges, it currently boasts of some of the very seasoned engineers who have refused to sojourn out there to other offers from other refineries across the world and have sacrificed all their lives to manage the plant all these years and as such cannot be scrapped by will by a Minister who has clearly failed to consult anyone in arriving at such an unfortunate decision.

The importance of the Tema Oil Refinery cannot be grossed over at this point as we all know the refinery when functional contributes immensely to the petroleum security and the overall growth of the Ghanaian economy and as such cannot be allowed to be treated just anyhow by the Minister for whatever reasons and considerations best known to only himself.

Fuel prices at the pumps looks set to go up by around 3% in the next pricing window of May and we believe a fully functional National refinery would have served a good catalyst to manage such price increases once we picking our own crude to process and refine locally but it sadly seems the contention of the Minister that the only refinery currently functional needs no revamping but scrapping.

We call on the Minister to immediately withdraw the unfortunate position within the next *one week* as this pronouncement is not serving anything positive aside to deepen the woes of our refinery from potential investors and to further render an unqualified apology to the Management of the Refinery and the good people of Ghana. 

We also use this opportunity to call on the President of the Republic-His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo to reign in some appointees who obviously are working against his widely touted vision of creating a Ghana Beyond Aid as scrapping a state owned Refinery to commission a new private one only leaves the oil sector in further controls by foreigners.

Signed

Duncan Amoah

Executive Secretary

CopecGhana

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