TOR needs $67m to enhance operations – Minister

Kofi Buah
Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah – Energy Minister

Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah has said that more than US$67 million would be needed for the Tema Oil Refinery’s (TOR) plant stabilization and profitability enhancement project.

He repeated earlier assurances that the refinery was not for sale, but was being rehabilitated to run an optimal level to enable it secure consistent supply of crude oil.

“The Ministry of Petroleum (MoPt) is committed to ensuring that TOR operates efficiently with consistent supply of crude oil,” the Minister told Parliament of Wednesday, when he answered questions on the floor of the House.

His assurance was in response to a question by Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus Glover, Member of Parliament for Tema East, who wanted to know what effort the Ministry was making to assist TOR procure crude oil to refine.

According to the Minister, the Ministry in 2011 conducted a comprehensive audit of TOR, which identified the refinery’s challenges as being mainly technical and commercial.

The audit concluded that the TOR needed a capital injection for the Stabilization and Enhancement Project on the Crude Distillation Unit and Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units to enable the oil refinery firm procure and refine crude oil.

When quizzed by the MP for Mampong, Francis Addai-Nimoh, whether TOR in its current state could refine oil, the Petroleum Minister said “just two months ago, TOR received 2,000 tons of crude which they have processed”.

TOR’s operations until January 2015 stalled for some time due to its operational inefficiency and the inability to establish letter of credit for purchase of crude oil. Its Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) was shut down in the process with Junior Staff of the company calling on President John Mahama to help save the company which was running on daily loses of GH₵350,000.

In November, 2014, then deputy Minister for Energy and Petroleum, John Jinapor, announced that the Government was in talks with Petro Saudi in a joint-venture arrangement to revive the ailing oil refinery.

The agreement when reached would see the Arabian Firm plug the inefficiencies that has engulfed TOR.

Per the agreement, a new marketing firm called TOR-PS (TOR-Petro Saudi) would be set up to procure crude oil and sell the finished product. Petro-Saudi is expected to control 49 per cent of the stakes while Ghana manages the remaining 51per cent.

Mr Buah said after the audit, the TOR submitted a comprehensive action plan, and the MoPt facilitated the release of the first tranche of US$ 30 million from the Ministry of Finance to initiate the implementation of the enhancement project.

“Work on the first phase of the projects has been substantially completed,” Mr Buah said, adding that a number of companies have subsequently expressed interest in the supply of crude oil to TOR.

“The Ministry will continue to work with TOR to ensure the full completion of the enhancement project. This is the surest way of ensuring that TOR runs at optimal level to enable it secure consistent supply of crude oil,” the Minister said.

To a question from Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia South, for the details of the Joint Venture arrangement between Petro Saudi and the TOR, Mr Buah said currently various documents for the transaction including Project Agreements, Comprehensive Business Plans, Government Consent and Support Agreement (GCSA), Shareholders Agreement and Off-taker Agreements, among others are being reviewed and negotiated by the Attorney General’s Department, MoPt , TOR, Ministry of Finance and Petro Saudi.

“TOR has submitted the reviewed document to Petro Saudi for their consideration, the Minister said.

He added that the negotiated GCSA and other related agreement and documents would as required by law and practice, be submitted to Cabinet for approval and thereafter to Parliament for ratification.

The Government of Ghana and TOR team plan to have GCSA and other related documents before Parliament by the second quarter of this year, Mr Buah announced.

Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, was earlier in the House to answer an urgent question that stood in the name of Mr Alex Agyekum MP for Mporhor, who wanted to know what measures were being put in place to curb the perennial examination malpractices in the country.

The Minister in response said despite candidates from Ghana sweeping most of the top prizes for excellence at examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council, the Ministry considers examination malpractices as unacceptable.

The House learned that the year 2014 recorded the highest examination number of malpractices in recent years.

The Minister said examination malpractices take place before, during and after the examinations and identified some of the unacceptable practices as bringing foreign materials to the examination halls, solicitation during the examination, collusion impersonation and leakage of examination questions.

She said some of the measures to curb the malpractices as swapping of supervisors for schools, naming and shaming of offenders.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang advised students to work and study hard to earn the grades, since the grade are for them.

Meanwhile the House marked the World Tuberculosis Day which fell on March 24, with a statement by Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee, which was supported by Dr Richard Winfred Anane, the Ranking Member.

Source: GNA

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