Fuel Crisis: 19 OMCs Cut Off

Fuel supply to 19 oil marketing companies (OMCs) in the country has been cut by the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) for accumulating a debt of GH¢53,820,245.41. Explaining the hiccup in fuel distribution which struck the country at the weekend, a highly placed source close to TOR told the Daily Graphic that the situation was not due to shortage of fuel, insisting, “We have enough reserves to meet the demand.” It said apart from the 19 OMCs which were heavily indebted to TOR and whose supplies had been completely cut, two other companies had been put on what it termed “allocation” list, in which case TOR would determine the quantum of petroleum products to supply the two companies and not what they would request. The 19 firms are Excel, Galaxy, Havilah, Manbah Gas Co. Ltd, Nasona, Sonnidom, Top Oil and Universal. Others are Deliman Co. Ltd. Q8 Oil Gh. Ltd, Unique Oil Co. Ltd., Sky Petroleum Ltd and Merchant Oil. The rest are Lambark Gas Ltd, Champion Oil Co. Ltd, Rural Energy, AP Oil and Gas, Deebabs Energy and Trading and Jusbro Petroleum Co. Ltd. Two companies, which were not named, were put on “allocation” by TOR. The source said stoppage of supplies and those on “allocation” supplies took effect from September 24, 2009. It said the decision to stop supplies to those companies was part of the government’s efforts to clean TOR’s books. It noted that because of TOR’s huge indebtedness, most banks had been reluctant to raise letters of credit for TOR but everything possible was being done to ensure adequate fuel supply to feed the market. The source said but for the delay in the delivery of fuel last week, there would not have been any hiccups anyway and added that TOR suspected that some filling stations decided not to sell on hearing of shortages in other fuel stations, particularly those in the northern part of the country. According to the source, such firms wanted to cash in and take advantage, especially in the event of any upward price adjustments. The source said officials of the National Petroleum Authority would be inspecting those fuel stations claiming they did not have fuel. To further address the situation in which last Thursday’s supply, for example, was delayed, TOR has pumped almost six million litres of petrol onto the market since Saturday. At a press briefing on Monday, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr Kwabena Donkor, announced that the government had also opened letters of credit and secured payment arrangements for the supply of crude oil to TOR in two weeks. “We have opened the letters of credit and payment is guaranteed,” he said. The supply of crude to TOR will enable the organisation to refine the product for the first time since September 2008. In Kumasi, the situation at the various fuel stations was much better yesterday than the previous day when there were a number of queues of vehicles looking for some of the product to buy at the few stations where it was available. The queues had vanished from the filling stations by Tuesday afternoon when the Daily Graphic visited some stations. That notwithstanding, many of the stations said they did not have petrol. Some stations, such as Ahodwo GOIL, which had just received a stock of 9,000 litres, were selling. The KMA Shell, Anomagye Shell and Aboabo Total had received stocks and were also selling. It was observed that stations on the main road where patronage was high did not have petrol available, while those whose patronage hitherto were slow were doing brisk business. Some of the station managers expressed the hope that the stocks which had just arrived in the country would be distributed across the country and not concentrated in Accra. Stations such as Dr Mensah Goil, Asafo GOIL and Total at Labour still did not have petrol.