Ghanaian officialdom this morning will be in their best clothes, driving at obviously slow speeds due to the bad nature of the roads in front of the now collapsed Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) towards the Sentuo refinery with all frenzy for the commissioning of this rather new Chinese led privately setup refinery which sits just some 500 metres away.
The private refinery with an expected total capacity of some 100,000 barrels per day after its completion is gearing up to take over the Ghanaian market within the short to medium term as it can meet current demand 100%.
What is obviously clear here is that the Chinese investor sees all the opportunities in putting up a refinery as it is profitable whiles our Ghanaian officials who are in a frenzy to go commissioning see no reason in fixing what the country itself owns to be able to give the benefits the private investor seeks to our people.
Petroleum refining globally has proven to be not only profitable but also one of the surest ways of ensuring petroleum security. However, in Ghana, the narrative is the inverse.
The General Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union of TUC and the Workers of the Tema Oil Refinery over the past months have mounted a spirited effort to get officialdom to pay attention to the sad state of the only refinery by fixing it to give the country the needed Petroleum Security as well as protecting jobs at the refinery as it has done for Ghana since its inception in the 1960s but all to no avail.
The State, since taking over the refinery from the Italian counterparts who built it, has simply proven it cannot be entrusted to manage anything economically to the benefit of its people and the sad bit is that officialdom is excited to go commissioning another refinery right across the road thereby sending the signal to the Tema Oil Refinery it has no business any longer effective today, as the private refinery with a much higher refining capacity comes into operation.
TOR, a refinery which at some point in time single handedly contributed over 5% to Ghana’s GDP, has suddenly been reduced to a redundant white elephant from the actions and inactions of the powers that be.
Sad to say, these officials are busy supporting the setting up of private refineries, thus ceding the refinery space completely as well as all the advantages that come with refining economics to private capital.
Events of recent times starting from some comments by a former Energy Minister of Energy to turning TOR into a dumper are clearly being engineered before the populace as every effort by well-meaning Ghanaians to get officials and state actors to pay attention to TOR has fallen on deaf ear.
Workers who have stuck with the refinery with the hopes of seeing the plant back to work will report to work as usual and be greeted by a fleet of official vehicles and convoys passing right in front of TOR to go commissioning, applauding, and encouraging a private one to count on them (officialdom) for every support in helping them to go about their work whiles TOR remains grounded.
It is our hope that Ghanaian officials will reflect on this development and quickly make amends such that the state (Ghana) will maintain some amount of its fiduciary duty to its people in ensuring all aspects of our economic lives are not further ceded to foreign control and domination as has happened to the Telecom, Banking, and now the Petroleum sector.
Executive Secretary, Chamber of Petroleum Consumers