Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh – Minister of Energy
Details are emerging about how some staff of Ghana’s only oil refinery, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), allegedly diverted petroleum products belonging to the company’s clients and caused financial loss to the state.
As a result, some 13 top guys at TOR have been interdicted and another 58 staff are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the losses and what is said to be serious breaches of professional conduct by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) that is currently handling the affairs of the refinery.
A statement has been released by the Interim Management Committee confirming that some staff have been interdicted and there is an ongoing investigation into the matter.
The statement titled “Product Losses at Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) – Interim Management Committee (IMC) Commences Investigations,” catalogued instances of massive theft that resulted in the committee’s action.
It said “in order to eradicate or reduce product losses at TOR to the barest minimum, to enable TOR realise its vast potential, the Interim Management Committee, as part of its mandate, commenced investigations into product storage and transfer losses,” adding “below are some of the incidents of product storage and transfer losses that have so far been discovered in the process.”
The statement said there has been “the disappearance of 105, 927 litres of Gas oil on 4th September 2021, which belongs to a BDC client,” as well as “the wrongful loading of 252,000 litres of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK) instead of regular Kerosene into BRV Trucks at the loading gantry between 21st and 25th September, 2021.”
The statement also said that there is “the disappearance of 18 drums of electrical cables worth GH¢10.4 million from the Technical Storehouse of TOR, discovered in April 2021,” as well as the “the disappearance of LPG belonging to a client between 2012 and 2015, as a result of which TOR became indebted to the client to the tune of $4.8 million, as confirmed by an Ernst and Young audit.”
There was also the “loss of Naphtha to a BDC client,” according to the statement.
“Consequently, a number of staff members who hold various positions of responsibility with respect to the transfer of products have been queried and interdicted, pending the outcome of investigations. While the investigations are ongoing, we urge all staff to remain calm and be rest assured that the investigations are being conducted in accordance with due process of law. Anyone cleared in the process will be recalled from interdiction while any form of liability will be dealt with in accordance with law.”
A source told DAILY GUIDE that the IMC is taking the action as part of the Ministry of Energy’s ongoing audits and re-organisation of agencies under it, to stem corruption and other loss-making activities.
According to the source, some top staff were even indulging in the issuance of unauthorised letter admitting debt liability to TOR, with attendant computation of interest without the approval of the IMC.
This accounted for funds given by the Ministry of Finance for the payment of TOR’s Debt to a project consulting firm at TOR, did not get paid until a garnishee order was placed on the company’s account in in July 2021.
It is against this backdrop that the Minister of Energy, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, set IMC at TOR as part of its ongoing mandate to conduct Technical and HR audits, and also access viable business partnerships for the refinery when the leadership of the state refinery was asked to step aside in July 2021.
The IMC has concluded that consistent product and financial losses need to be eradicated if the refinery is to discharge its mandate as expected.
According to the IMC, it is committed to establishing a “zero tolerance for culture for unacceptable product losses,” and commenced investigations into a number of product storage and transfer losses recorded in the company over a period of time.
The IMC implored the public to be patient and not jump to any conclusions until investigations have been completed.
From Vincent Kubi, Tema