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The government has opened letters of credit and secured payment arrangements for the supply of crude oil to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) in two weeks, a Deputy Minister for Energy, Dr Kwabena Donkor, has announced.

We have opened the letters of credit and payment is guaranteed, he said.

Dr Donkor, who made this known at a press conference in Accra yesterday, said under the arrangement, the crude oil would be supplied to TOR through private sector players who were expected to buy from licensed crude oil dealers on the international market.

He said it was not only this year that the refinery had not imported crude but that the company had since September 2008 not imported crude. He expressed the hope that once TOR took delivery of the first cargo of crude, the pressure on the other suppliers to bring in finished products would be reduced.

Over the past couple of months, TOR has been facing some serious challenges with respect to financial capacity and the procurement of crude oil owing to the huge debts some oil marketing companies owe it (TOR).

Commenting on the issue of petrol supply, Dr Donkor said the situation had improved tremendously and that over the weekend TOR and the Accra Plains Depot had to work overtime.

On Sunday, he said, they pumped 4.7 million litres of petrol onto the market. Earlier on Saturday, Dr Donkor said, one million litres had been sent to the market, adding, We have sent enough gasoline onto the market to meet demand.

We had a hiccup with the arrival of a vessel to bring the petrol. A new vessel was brought in under emergency cargo which brought 4,000 metric tones of petrol, he emphasised, adding that he did not expect to have any problem.

Dr Donkor said it took a little time for tankers to get to other parts of the country and assured people in those parts of supplies by the end of yesterday.

He noted that more than 10 oil marketing companies (OMCs) who owed TOR GH50 million would not get supplies until they regularised the payment of what they owed.

He said with regard to the TOR debt, the government wanted to do a comprehensive job to put the company in a better position to deliver.
Part of the measures taken, he said, was the appointment of transaction advisers, Ecobank Development Corporation and Ecobank Ghana Limited, to assist in restructuring the TOR debt.

He said the government inherited problems in the energy sector which it was investigating and that once it concluded investigations, it would come out with its findings.

Dr Donkor made mention of a $35 million contact given to an individual using two different companies to undertake a rural electrification programme, adding that the contract to undertake the project did not go through the right process.

On crude oil from Nigeria and Libya, he said the government was on course in getting the oil and that what people should understand was that government-to-government negotiations, even after they had been signed, had to be programmed.

Every country producing crude oil has a programme. They know where the quantity they produce for each quarter goes. If they bring you on board, they then programme you for the next quarter, he explained, adding that a technical team would be sent to Nigeria this week, as there were issues that bordered on the agreement.

Dr Donkor said what was left now was for the technical people to come up with the details. In a related development, a 13-member delegation from Trinidad and Tobago is in the country to discuss ways in which that country can work with the government to develop the oil and gas industry. Areas of co-operation they will deliberate on include technology transfer, application of modern technology, energy business development and investment in the energy sector.

Interacting with Dr Donkor in Accra on Monday, the Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs Victoria Charles Mendez Charles said her country was not only interested in strengthening the relationship between the two countries but also assisting Ghana to develop the oil and gas sector with the discovery of oil in the country.

She said although Trinidad and Tobago had been successful in the oil and gas industry, it had not been all that smooth. She said the delegation was in the country to sell to Ghana how Trinidad and Tobago was able to overcome the challenges and pitfalls it faced in the sector.

She said her country valued local content in the oil and gas industry, and that this will be a key part of discussions with officials in Ghana, since local content is very important in building the sector.

Dr Donkor, for his part, said the country was determined to make oil and gas a blessing and would do everything to ensure that wealth was created in the industry.

We want to see oil and gas as a blessing and we are determined to make a difference, he said, adding that the government would create the platform that would catapult the country in the area of oil and gas.

Dr Donkor said the country wanted to learn and share experiences from Trinidad and Tobago. The delegation will be in the country for about a week.
Source: Daily Graphic

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