…BDCs must play a role
A Petrochemical Engineer at the Dangote Industries in Nigeria, Babajide Soyede, has said it is prudent for government to leave the business of oil refining to the private sector.
Mr. Soyede said the persistent challenges, which have in the past bedeviled the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), was partially due to the lack of a strong policy guide from government and political interference.
“The biggest investment in the oil industry is in refinery and the Bulk oil Distribution Companies must be encouraged to make more investment in that sector too,” he argued.
TOR currently has a production capacity of 45,000 barrels per day with 750 staff but the number, Soyede explained, is too huge for a refinery of that sort.
That is where the problem emanates, he noted, adding, “a refinery like TOR should not have more than 50 employees but it is the way it is because, it is a state refinery with strong political interference.”
Putting it in context, he said the Dangote Refinery, which will possibly begin operations in 2020, will refine 650,000 barrels per day and will have not more than 1500 staff.
Soyede, speaking on the topic; ‘To refine or not to refine: The case of West Africa’, and giving updates on the Dangote Refinery at the just ended Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GhIPCON) last Friday, said, countries in the sub-region must refine, but that must be private sector led.
The claimed overemployment at TOR, Soyede further explained, exerts pressure on the taxpayer as more employees have to be paid at the expense of Ghanaians.
He recommended that government rather subsidize education, health, food and housing, instead of petrol.
“Let those who use petrol pay for it. Government must not subsidize petrol at the expense of majority of taxpayers who don’t own cars. When government subsidizes fuel, it takes money from another sector and as we know, there’s no free lunch,” he argued.
Soyede believes that Ghanaian businessmen must develop the urge to venture into oil refinery business, adding, the “Tema Oil Refinery had been existing for almost 60 years with minimal impact, and it is time the private sector ventures into that.
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe