The Institute for Energy Security (IES) has admonished the government to revive the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to help curb increasing fuel prices.
The IES in a statement described the government’s decision to import fuel to address cost-related issues as “reactionary, morally indefensible” and a misplaced priority that will not address the rampant fuel price increases in the long term.
“Government’s sudden appetite for imported fuel to address reliability and cost-related issues can best be described as reactionary, morally indefensible, misplaced priority, and a deliberate attempt to increase the fiscal burden of the Ghanaian economy. It must be stated forcefully that the state is better off prioritizing local crude refining, instead of importation of refined products.”
“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,” IES said.
On Tuesday, fuel prices hit an all-time high with Petrol selling at about GHS18 per litre and diesel retailing at over GHS 23 a litre.
Below is the full statement by IES:
On June 16th 2022 when the Institute for Energy Security (IES) called for His Excellency the President’s intervention to as a matter of urgency revive the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), a gallon of diesel was selling for Gh¢55. As part of the concerns, the IES indicated that the Minister in charge of the sector was failing to provide the required leadership to urgently lift TOR out of its present condition.
The IES Press statement highlighted the possibility of Ghana losing out on the prospects of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, and the potential to generate synergy between the upstream and the downstream sectors of the Ghanaian petroleum industry. The statement captured that “the global economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war somehow presents an opportunity for the country’s petroleum sector.
Between June 16th 2022 (when the IES called for the President’s intervention) and now, many undesiring occurrences have been recorded in the downstream petroleum sector, which has brought untold hardship on citizens, and on industries in Ghana.
Price of a litre of Diesel and Petrol has seen an astronomical increase of roughly 79 percent and 95 percent respectively.
Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) increased fuel prices thrice in a single pricing window, a cumulative 46 percent for Diesel and 37 percent for Petrol.
Some Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs) declined to release fuel to the Ghanaian market, forcing some companies to shut down temporarily.
Adding to these unfortunate incidents, is the report of top government functionaries having to leave the shores of Ghana to hunt for what they describe as “reliable and regular sources of affordable petroleum products” for Ghanaians.
This comes to the IES as 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 the Ghanaians, abandoning its role to urgently bring TOR into an operational mode, to provide that reliability to an uninterrupted supply of fuel for the country.
Meanwhile, 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.
If His Excellency the President and the handlers of Ghana’s Energy Ministry look within, they would find what they are desperately looking for from outside the country. Indeed the search for 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 which is the refinery’s main raw material.
It beats ones imagination how an oil producing country with a refinery capacity of 45,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd), would have it top government officials abandon its domestic competitive advantage, and rather seek to import refined petroleum product elsewhere, in the name of reliability and affordability.
So soon we seem to have forgotten about the mandate of TOR, and the dream of our founding father Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, for Ghana’s petroleum industry and the economy as a whole. That is fair! But what about His Excellency President Akufo Addo’s plan for TOR, which he re-echoed on May Day 2022.
“Nonetheless, intense efforts are being made to rehabilitate the Tema Oil Refinery, to enable it contribute to stabilizing petroleum prices, which should see the light of day very soon. The plan to enhance the dividends of the Tema Oil Refinery, is part of a raft of measures by government to lessen the current economic hardship in the country” – President Nana Addo, 2022.
The trip to source 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.
Government’s sudden appetite for imported fuels to address reliability and cost related issues can best be described as reactionary, morally indefensible, misplaced priority, and a deliberate attempt to increase the fiscal burden of the Ghanaian economy. It must be stated forcefully that “the state is better off prioritizing local crude refining, instead of importation of refined products.”
President, it may interest Ghanaians to know the status of the negotiation between TOR and the strategic partner announced some months ago, and for that matter when the refinery is re-commencing operation after several months of inactivity.
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.
Amenorhu kwaku is an author, internet marketer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of SuccessValley, a network community for students and aspiring entrepreneurs