The controversy over the potential scrapping of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has left the Energy Ministry and officials at TOR in a stand-off.
The Energy Ministry is considering the possibility of turning TOR into a tank farm for the sole purpose of storing fuel but the Chief Executive Officer of the facility, Isaac Osei and his board chairman, in a united voice, have kicked against the decision.
They do not understand why the refinery will be scrapped at a time when the refinery has installed a catalytic cracker with the hope to commence full operations this weekend.
“I didn’t come to TOR to preside over its demise. I have not come here to run this company by scrapping it,” Isaac Osei said.
While he admitted that government has a plan to build a new refinery, he was quick to add that at no point was a decision taken to scrap the existing facility.
“Additional refineries are welcome and the government is right to ensure that we have new refineries in this country… but at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that we have trained, experienced, competent individuals working as engineers and technicians in present-day TOR. These are national assets which must be protected.
“I don’t think converting it into a tank farm is the way forward,” he stated.
He said he will engage with the minister and come up with a strategy that will be in the interest of all.
But officials at the Energy Ministry say they are surprised at the turn of events.
The Deputy Energy Minister Amin Adam in a conversation with Joy News’ Evans Mensah said they had already discussed with Mr Osei and the Board Chair of TOR, the need to revamp the refinery.
“To do this we propose to support them to build a new refinery of about 150,000 bbls capacity. The current capacity is 45,000 but for several years it has not been operational.
“Recently after operational maintenance, it could barely manage a quarter of its installed capacity.
“The new refinery needs storage and we could leverage the storage TOR already has.
He said the ministry is open to counterproposal on the way forward but there is the need to center the dialogue on the “economics of refineries, the efficiency of the current refinery, the need for expansion of TOR’s operations to meet our domestic demand, the need to add value to Ghana’s crude oil and the potential for creating more jobs.”
He appealed to workers at TOR to cease fire and rather opt for a peaceful engagement to address their grievances.
But the minority in parliament has waded into the debate with a threat to resist any attempt to turn TOR into a tank farm.
The minority spokesperson on energy, Adam Mutawakilu said the Energy Minister cannot say he would turn TOR into a tank farm.
“For what?” he asked, adding when you turn it into a tank farm what happens to the equipment.
He suspects the sector Minister has some ulterior motives in announcing the tank farm policy.
Mutawakilu said the party while in opposition promised to build a new refinery but not to turn TOR into a tank farm.
“This announcement by the minister to turn TOR into a tank farm is such a surprise to us,” he said, adding they will resist any such attempt.
He said nothing has been brought before the Parliamentary committee suggesting the mandate of TOR will be changed.