The Chief Executive Officer of African Energy Consortium Ltd, Kwame Jantuah, says the appointment of persons with no technical competences to manage the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), is a key factor to its failure.
According to Mr. Jantuah, TOR is unable to achieve maximum productivity partly because “politicians have used it as political football” without investing in it.
The energy expert made the comment Monday night on PM Express on JoyNews TV, in the raging debate over whether or not the country’s only functioning refinery should be turned into a tank farm as suggested by sector Minister, Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko.
“Is it that TOR is operationally bankrupt …or is it that TOR hasn’t had the requisite quantum of finance to get the plant working efficiently,” Mr. Jantuah retorted.
The Energy Minister had hinted of plans to build a new refinery with a capacity of 150,000 barrels while addressing foreign investors.
TOR workers, led by the CEO, Isaac Osei, are against the move and have vowed to resist any attempt to collapse it.
“I have not come here to run this company by scrapping it,” Mr. Osei said in an interview.
Local representative of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Union at TOR, John Elton Botchway, said: “It is very disheartening when you have a Minister who doesn’t know what he is sitting on and he goes to make such statements”.
“TOR, as it stands now, is not a dead plant that you would want to scrap out of nowhere…,” he added.
Annually, 1,800,000 tonnes (2,000,000 tons) of refined petroleum products are used in the Ghanaian economy. The refinery’s production reduces the cost of petroleum products imported into the country.
But Mr. Jantuah argued, that political appointees who have managed the refinery over the years, “have no technical idea of how TOR runs” criticising the Minister’s decision to turn the refinery into tanker farm.
He charged the Energy Minister “to make sure that the president also understands what it takes for some of these things to happen and the president himself should research to make sure that what his minister is telling him is right”.
Mr. Jantuah further advised the government to consider using TOR “…as a tolling facility whereby they can refine oil from any country” to raise TOR’s financial status “so that TOR can have enough capital to run”.
“Not until we have built a new refinery, that is all we have,” he said.