It appears there is a well designed and orchestrated plot to continue to deceive the people of Ghana in as far as oil from the Jubilee oil field and the country’s only refinery the Tema Oil Refinery’s capacity to refine that oil is concerned.
An official of Tullow Ghana Limited, Mr. Kwarteng Amaning Jnr, who is described as a Petroleum Engineer tells journalists in Tamale that TOR cannot refine the oil that is produced from the Jubilee oil field. Earlier in the year, some government officials have said a similar thing.
He was cited by the Ghana News Agency as saying that the crude oil from Jubilee was a premium quality, described internationally as “Sweet Light Oil”, and requires a refinery built to specification to be able to refine.
He went on to say that retrofitting TOR, or building a new refinery to the specification of the crude oil from the Jubilee Field, would cost about a billion dollars.
The Wikipedia definition of retrofitting is “the addition of new technology or features to older systems”.
But checks by ghanabusinessnews.com at TOR shows that Mr. Kwarteng Jnr is probably not referring to the same refinery at Tema.
Sources at TOR who didn’t want to be named because they think this lie which is being told over and over again is assuming a political dimension, said he should not be taken serious.
“No one builds a refinery to refine only one type of crude anyway,” one source said.
Meanwhile, it is on record that TOR imports sweet light crude and refines 45, 000 barrels a day.
Indeed, Dr. Thomas Akabzaa, a renowned academician and authority on the extractive industry has said emphatically that TOR can refine oil from the Jubilee filed.
Presenting a discussion paper on the classification of crude oil at a workshop for journalists on reporting oil and gas, he said the TOR has the facility to refine the type of oil that is produced from the Jubilee oil field.
Dr. Akabzaa used the global standard for classifying oil API to illustrate the point.
There are many different types of crude oil and classifications of crude oil is based on the geographical locations, sulfur content and relative weight but the major classification is done based on the location, as the oil comes from various parts of the world and they differ in their characteristics, according to information on the website of the American Petroleum Institute (API).
The American Petroleum Institute or the API provides a basis to measure the density of the oil. If the presence of sulfur is low in the crude oil, it is termed as ‘sweet’ and if the oil has high sulfur content then it is termed as ‘sour’. Based on the geographical classification, the various benchmarks are North Sea crudes, United State crudes, West African crudes and Persian Gulf crudes. The North Sea crudes comprise of Brent, Osberg, Forties, North Sea basket etc. Brent Sweet Light crude is light but not as light as the West Texas Intermediate (WTI). Brent crude is suitable for the production of gasoline. The sulfur level is 0.36% whereas the API gravity is around 38.5 degrees for the North Sea crudes.
Dr. Akabzaa said the oil produced from the Jubilee field is around API 38 degrees and contains sulfur less than 0.3% and therefore is classified as Jubilee sweet. It is also light and therefore, can be refined in Ghana.
Indeed, it is also on record that TOR has ever refined heavy bitter crude, a former employee told ghanabusinessnews.com.
It is difficult to understand why, this story is being told about TOR’s inability to refine the Jubilee crude.
“If the government of Ghana wants to make the Jubilee oil popular on the international market, government should come out and tell Ghanaians and stop creating the impression that TOR cannot refine the crude,” an angry employee who didn’t want to be named told ghanabusinessnews.com.
Meanwhile, when on March 10, 2011, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) lifted its first share of crude from the Jubilee oil field, over 995,000 barrels, it sent the consignment to Sunoco Incorporated, a petroleum and petrochemical products refiner in the United States.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi