The attempt by the Energy Ministry to scrap the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and turn it into a tank farm has received widespread condemnation.
The latest to criticize the proposal are the Board Chair of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Mr Freddie Blay and Policy Analyst and ISODEC head Steve Manteaw.
Blay told Joy News’ Parker Wilson “I don’t see it happening.” Even though he admits that TOR has been inefficient thus far, he believes the refinery is still viable if managed competently.
Perhaps Steve Manteaw was even harsh with his criticism of the proposal.
“Why will anybody want to collapse TOR?” he asked, adding, “It does not make sense and it defies logic.”
The Energy Ministry is yet to comment on the latest backlash.
The Boakye Agyarko led Ministry is planning to build a new refinery with a capacity of 150,000 bbls capacity.
However, it also plans to do away with the Tema Oil Refinery and turn it into a storage facility or a tank farm.
While TOR officials are not against the plans by the ministry to build a new refinery, the intention to scrap TOR has been their biggest bone of contention.
“I didn’t come to TOR to preside over its demise. I have not come here to run this company by scrapping it,” TOR CEO Isaac Osei said.
The Energy Ministry has expressed surprise about the outburst of the TOR CEO.
The Deputy Energy Minister Dr Mohammed Amin Adam told Joy News’ Evans Mensah both the TOR CEO and the Board Chair were consulted before the proposal was announced.
He, therefore, expressed utmost surprise that Mr Isaac Osei would come out and criticize the policy having already agreed to it privately.
But TOR in a statement said there has been no such discussion with the Energy Ministry, neither has there been an agreement to turn the refinery into a tank farm.
Speaking on Joy News’ Top Story, Friday, Steve Manteaw said there appears to be “confusion” and “power play” at the very top of the energy sector.
“This is what happens when party stalwarts are appointed as heads of such institutions,” he stated, adding “there is a clash of egos and interest going on.”
When he was asked by Joy News’ Emefa Apawu if it was a good decision to scrap TOR, he stated “I do not see the need to scrap TOR. It is a viable entity.”
He blamed the current challenges at TOR on the huge debt which the TOR recovery levy has not cleared for well over a decade.
The TOR recovery levy was introduced by the Kufuor administration to pay off the huge debt it inherited from the Rawlings led administration.
That debt has yet to be paid ten years on.
“The TOR recovery levy has been abused. There is no accountability at all…The truth is that the more we pay the more the debt we accrue,” he stated.
“We need to clear the TOR recovery debt and expand TOR facilities to do about 100,000 barrels.
Currently TOR is refining 45,000 barrels, a capacity, Steve Manteaw said is not enough.
At that capacity, it will be cheaper to rather import the finished product into the country than continue refining at TOR, he explained.
He has also called for the depoliticization of TOR. According to him, in every election cycle party footsoldiers are sent to TOR as security, they do not do any work but are paid all at the expense of TOR.
He said government must “dilute the ownership of TOR” float shares on the stock exchange and limit government influence in the management of TOR.
“We did it for Goil; let’s do same for TOR,” he added.