CHAMBER OF Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), a pressure group, has given the Minister of Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, one week to redraw his statement on plans to turn the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) into a tank farm and apologise unreservedly to Ghanaians or face the wrath of players in the oil industry.
Speaking to the DAILY HERITAGE, Mr Duncan Amoah, Executive Secretary, COPEC, said what the minister ought to do was rather to focus on strategies to halt fuel price hikes.
The group’s reaction followed Mr Agyarko’s statement at the recently held Offshore Technology Conference in Huston, Texas, which suggested that TOR was on its way out as the refinery was set to be turned into a tank farm.
According to the group, the importance of TOR could not be underestimated at a time when the refinery contributes immensely to the petroleum security and the overall growth of the Ghanaian economy.
COPEC said “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,” they opined.
COPEC says it believes that the current key performing indicators of TOR suggest it is performing far below target and continues to make losses from its operations.
The group said the situation is so because there had been relatively no new investment in maintenance over a number of years, or that the maintenance programmes had not been carried out efficiently.
They added that bad strategy, organisation size, terrible management and an ineffective board were factors that contributed to the problems at TOR.
According to COPEC, “the over $1-billion refinery plant has had its own challenges since its inception, with most of these challenges stemming from interference 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.”
The group suggested that TOR should have competent people in government to run the institution: “we don’t put persons who have the knowledge and clout that will take on the shareholder; Government of Ghana to stop interfering in TOR operations and to make good its promises like paying what is owed to TOR.”
They added that the most significant challenge of the refinery currently was additional investments to replace some pieces of the obsolete equipment to improve efficiency and profitability of the refinery.