…CSOs question refinery’s long-term future
The Managing Director (MD) of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Francis Boateng, has been sacked from his post, together with his deputy, Ato Morrison.
The duo, who had been at the helm of the troubled state-owned refinery since May 2020, were reportedly served with their dismissal letters last Friday June 11, 2021 by the Ministry of Energy.
Commenting on the issue, Executive Director of Institute for Energy Policies and Research (INSTEPR), Kwadwo N. Poku, said the refinery’s current state has been that of ‘grave concern’.
“There is no quick fix to the myriad of problems at TOR. Some people are of the belief that if GNPC gives our local crude oil to TOR and Ministry of Finance gives money to the refinery to pay 6 months of salaries the problems will disappear. Unfortunately, that is a misconception. All refining done by TOR in the last 6 years using the CDU and Residue Fluid Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) has resulted in losses to the Refinery,” he said in a release titled, can TOR work again?
“We have stated in the past that the refinery needs special attention by government to determine the long-term viability of the company,” he said, adding that worker’s agitation over nonpayment of salaries, water supply to the refinery being disconnected by Ghana Water Company Limited, unavailability of crude oil to be refined at the refinery, to mention a few, are some of the recent headlines.
TOR has a 45,000 barrel per stream day (bpsd) capacity Crude Distillation Unit and 14,000 bpsd Residue Fluid Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) Unit which converts atmospheric air to higher value finished products, but has being operating below 25,000 bpsd.
To turn around the fortunes of the company, he said, urgent steps must be taken to increase refinery’s CDU from 23,000 bpsd to 45,000 bpsd, solve the RFCC problem, install hydrotreating catalysts and technologies for all crude oil fractions, construct a gas pipeline (less than 1KM) to power the refinery and put measures and security in place to stop the theft of products.
“The government is faced with the daunting task of appointing a new Managing Director and board of directors to save our premier and only Refinery. The Minister of Energy is appointing an interim management committee to oversee the day to day running of the refinery. We hope this decision is not rushed since the job security of many workers employed at TOR depends on a new competent Managing Director,” he said.
For the Executive Director of the Institute for Energy Security (IES), Nana Amoasi VII, the running of the refinery in the past five years has been nothing to write home about: “It has been five wasteful years at TOR. Another moment where no single value was created, but rather waste- occasioned by inefficiency, poor leadership, rising debt, lack of vision and commitment on the part of government.”
For him, the refining capacity has fallen, utilization rate has been abysmal, staff morale is at unprecedented low and that there is very little or no hope for the country’s sole oil refinery.
“For a refinery to be profitable, it has to be efficient in terms of it’s operation. Government, therefore, may have to concern itself with increasing the refining capacity, increasing the utilization capacity, and reviewing the plant configuration.
The bit about funding the refinery to undertake the numerous works outstanding, government’s best bet is foregoing part of its stake in the business to private hands. This is to reduce its level of interference and most importantly to provide the needed cash-flow for the projects and operations of TOR,” Nana Amoasi VII added.