Angry banks chase TOR over unpaid debts

It has emerged that stories of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) making $800,000 profit as well as converting its debt into a 10-year bond as told by its acting Managing Director, Mr Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko, does not represent the full story.
Investigations by the Finder indicate that banks which TOR owes have descended on the Ministry of Finance to demand payment since TOR says it is now profitable.
The banks are inundating the Finance Ministry with phone calls, wanting to know where the so-called profit of TOR is going since their debt has been paid.
The banks acted this way because at the time Mr Awuah-Darko made the announcement, discussions to convert TOR’s debt of some GHC1 billion into bonds had not been concluded, let alone reached an agreement.
In subsequent media interviews, Mr Awuah-Darko made statements which indicate that the bond has already been issued.
The Finder’s investigations also revealed that as of Friday, April 29, 2016 when TOR’s acting MD made the pronouncements, the board of directors of TOR had not approved the deal to convert the debt into bonds.
Therefore, the announcement took the board members by surprise and a lot of pressure was brought to bear on them in the process they had to meet last Wednesday, May 4, 2016 to approve the deal.
Few banks have also now approved the deal while others are yet to sign it.
No Cabinet memo
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, which was also taken aback by the announcement, is yet to prepare a memo on the bonds to be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
According to reliable sources, the ministry is now working out modalities on how best to finance the bond.
According to the sources, government officials not happy with the actions of the acting MD or TOR cannot publicly voice their concerns because Mr Awuah-Darko is a close friend of President Dramani Mahama.
The Finder’s investigations further revealed that the $800,000 Mr Awuah-Darko classified as profit is rather fees TOR charged for processing one million barrels of crude oil belonging to Bulk Oil Storage Transport Company Limited (BOST).
TOR refines crude for BOST
According to sources, TOR only refines crude owned by BOST for a fee and finished products are handed over the BOST to sell and make profit.
Insiders say considering the financing cost and huge overhead cost, TOR cannot be said to be making profit when it can only process 28,000 barrels of crude oil per day out of the installed capacity of 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to a broken furnace.
Calls placed to Mr Awuah-Darko’s phones were not answered and text messages seeking his reaction were also not replied to.
Since the refinery resumed operations this year, it has so far processed some 2 million barrels of crude oil, and another one million barrel of crude is expected in the coming days.
$67.7m turnaround maintenance
In 2010, TOR requested for $67.7 million for plant stabilization and enhancement projects.
In response, government in 2012 released $30 million, which was used to complete the first phase of plant stabilization and enhancement projects on the crude distillation and residual fluid catalytic cracking units.
Additional releases have been made to TOR in subsequent years, and as of today, over $50 million out of the $67.7 million requested has been given to TOR.
TOR’s operations have suffered inconsistencies amid frequent shutdowns of processing units since 2009, mainly due to a lack of capital to procure crude oil on a continuous basis.
Products of TOR
TOR refines crude to produce gasoline, cracked fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPM), aviation turbine kerosene, gas oil, naphtha and atmospheric residue.

The Finder