Despite the fact that the world market price for crude has plummeted from US$70.00 in May to US$59.61, the National Petroleum Authority is not in a perfect stead to reduce the ex-pump price of a gallon of gasoline or petrol immediately because of a myriad of militating problems.
In the first place, TOR bids for the supply of petrol weeks, or month, ahead of supply and reduction in the world market price of crude cannot be made to translate into immediate reduction in the ex-pump prices of fuel products. Another reality that has to be considered is the fact that over the past seven or so months, Ghana’s sole oil refinery plant, the Tema Oil Refinery, has not been able to operate to refine the petrol used in Ghana; TOR has been on ‘recess,’ undergoing re-furbishing. What the necessary maintenance entails is that petrol and some of the other products have to be imported already refined and at the vagaries of all the conditions of the turbulent world market.
The Heritage came to these conclusions when it undertook to find out whether from the Energy Ministry and the National Petroleum Authority, after the oil price had plummeted from a 2009 high of about US$70.00 in May/June to US$59.61 yesterday, whether the Energy Ministry and the N.P.A. would undertake to reduce the ex-pump price soon.
Ghana’s persisting inflation, failure of the Oil Marketing Companies to pay debts they owe TOR and several debilitating challenges are factors that continue to make it impossible for the TOR, and Government for that matter, to reduce the ex-pump prices to quickly reflect the world market price of the crude, The Heritage’s incisive enquiries have established.
As part of the Heritage’s enquiry, it learnt that all oil marketing companies (OMCs) whose indebtedness to the Tema Oil Refinery partly caused the acute fuel shortage that hit parts of the country barely a week ago have been given a renegotiated 14 days credit term to clear their debts.Failure of the OMCs that owe TOR to pay their debts to facilitate the refinery of oil for prompt supply of fuel to Ghanaians would result in the freeze of supply to those companies.According to Aba Lokko, the Public Relations Officer of TOR, efforts so far made by the state-owned refinery in retrieving some of the debts owed it have resulted in positive results. She told The Heritage yesterday in an interview that some of the companies that owed the refinery had paid their debts.
She said the sole oil refinery firm had entered into an agreement with those who were yet to pay their debts for the usual flexible provisos of two weeks credit terms, warning that indebted OMCs that would exceed the stipulated 14 days credit term would have their supply suspended.The TOR had earlier explained that its inability to supply fuel to some OMCs was partly due to the huge debts owed it. It said its efforts at retrieving debts owed it had resulted in not allowing the marketing companies to lift the fuel. Though the acute shortage of fuel had been resolved with enough supply to the OMCs for prompt delivery to Ghanaians, the refinery has not relented in its efforts to retrieve all debts owed it to avoid a recurrence of the situation.
The Heritage has reliably gathered that, since January, TOR has not refined a single atom of oil due to the myriad of financial problems bedeviling it. One major setback that has been the bane of the refinery is the need for maintenance of one of its terminals. The refinery explained that it had to shut down one of its terminals for maintenance, though it was scheduled over some weeks ago when another problem was detected on the workstation.
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