Affordable fuel starts with a revived TOR

Oil marketing companies (OMCs)

A well retooled Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) could offer Ghanaians much needed relief in the face of a rising economic crisis that has seen pump prices of fuel products shoot up by more than 100 percent this year, the energy think-tank Institute for Energy Security (IES) has said.

In the current economic climate where countries are increasingly looking for more home-grown solutions to weather the storm, it said there is no better time than now to finally revamp the ailing refinery – since this could be pivotal in transforming the country’s economic fortunes.

The IES’ comments come on the back of reports about top government functionaries having to leave the country’s shores to hunt for what they describe as ‘reliable and regular sources of affordable petroleum products’.

The IES therefore believes that government’s continual appetite for reliable and affordable fuel elsewhere defeats the president’s proclaimed intention for TOR and the economy of Ghana.

“Instead of giving priority to domestic refining of Ghana’s indigenous crude oil, government is rather resorting to gambling on the importation of liquid fuels without giving a thought to the guarantee of sufficient and reliable supply of same,” an IES statement said.

It said the search for that heavily discounted fuel price from elsewhere is an unrealistic hope, and the team may return empty handed unless the expectation/request is exchanged with something valuable to the would-be supplier.

“It is shocking to hear that the energy ministry is actually leading a group roaming the world looking for reliable and regular sources of affordable petroleum products for Ghanaians, abandoning its role of urgently bringing TOR into an operational mode to provide that reliability for an uninterrupted supply of fuel to the country,” the statement further lamented.

It also described government’s sudden appetite for imported fuels to address reliability and cost-related issues at the expense of revamping the country’s only refinery as reactionary, morally indefensible, a misplaced priority and a deliberate attempt to increase the Ghanaian economy’s fiscal burden.

Rather, it noted, the search for a reliable and affordable source of petroleum products starts with the Tema Oil Refinery, which has been down since March 2021 due to lack of crude oil – the refinery’s main raw material.

The statement, signed by Fritz Moses – a research analyst at IES, insisted that the state is better-off prioritising local crude refining instead of importing refined products.

“It beats one’s imagination how an oil-producing country with a refinery capacity of 45,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) will have its top government officials abandon its domestic competitive advantage and rather seek to import refined petroleum product from elsewhere in the name of reliability and affordability,” part of the statement said.

“Once more, the Institute for Energy Security (IES) wishes to appeal to the president to look within bring back TOR in the shortest possible time, refine Ghana’s crude domestically, work to strengthen the local currency, and ensure an adequate amount of dollars is made available to importers of fuel,” it further added.

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