The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is seeking a $130 million bailout from the government to revamp its operations as a new three-member Interim Management Committee (IMC) takes over the management of the refinery.
This follows a directive from the Ministry of Energy asking the Managing Director, Mr Francis Boateng, and his deputy, Mr Ato Morrison to step aside.
The refinery, which is grappling with mounting debts and tax liabilities, will now be led by Mr Nobert Cormla-Djamposu Anku with Mr William Ntim Boadu and Mr Okyere Baffuor Sarpong as members of the IMC.
The bailout request is to help the refinery replace some non-functioning equipment to make the company operate at optimum capacity.
The Board Chairman of TOR, Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic that the bailout, when granted, would help resolve the operational challenges that the refinery was currently facing.
“About $130 million will effectively resuscitate the refinery to operate at optimum,” he said.
He said part of the money would be used to replace worn-out equipment, upgrade the safety systems, improve on the storage tanker, replace weaker pumps and motors and install new automatic metres.
TOR, which recently received $4.2 million from the government to revamp its operations, is currently saddled with a GH¢167 million debt owed the Ghana Revenue Authority and other state agencies.
There is also a GH¢85 million debt accrued as a result of the failure of TOR to pay taxes deducted from employees’ income, the non-payment of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) tier one pension scheme totalling GH¢3 million and the inability of the management to pay the Provident Fund contributions amounting to GH¢34 million.
But the board chairman said those debts were inherited and that the board and management were working with the government to resolve all outstanding matters in relation to the debts.
He said part of the government support was used to settle the refinery’s international insurers to the tune of $5 million.
Tongraan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, who is also a member of the Council of State and the chief of Talensi in the Upper East Region, explained that the government had supported TOR to replace its burnt furnace to enable it process more crude oil for the local and international market.
The installation of the new furnace, which started earlier this year, is expected in November to allow for deployment.
He said the replacement of the furnace would allow TOR to climb back to its installed capacity of 45,000 barrels of crude oil per stream day (bpsd), thus making it profitable to face the future on its own balance sheet.
The Council of State member said although the refinery had procured the furnace from its own resources, it was unable to fund the installation due to financial constraints until the government stepped in.
The debts of TOR have triggered agitations by the workers of the refinery for the dissolution of the board and removal of the Managing Director, Mr Francis Boateng.
The workers say the debts pose a threat to the survival of the refinery and have, therefore, petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to intervene.
TOR, which is Ghana’s first and only refinery, has not been operational for a while due to many challenges.
Several civil society organisations such as the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) had been at the forefront of calls on the government to do all it could to get the refinery back on its feet.
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