The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has vowed to rid the refinery of corrupt and indisciplined members of staff whose actions have plunged the company into perpetual debt.
According to the IMC Chairman, Mr Norbert Anku, until those members of staff were removed and a robust working system put in place, no amount of capital injection would save the refinery from continued deterioration.
Speaking with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday on recent disclosures by the three-member IMC that more than 15 members of staff of the refinery had been interdicted over their roles in the loss of products and other actions that proved hurtful to the company’s fortunes, Mr Anku said: “TOR is viable but the problem is the attitude of some of the staff.”
“There are a lot of losses and loopholes which, when addressed, will make TOR bounce back,” he said.
Revelation of rot
Last Tuesday, the IMC released a statement indicting some members of staff over various infractions that caused the company huge losses.
Among the issues were the disappearance of 105,927 litres of gas oil that belonged to a bulk oil distribution company on September 4, this year and the wrongful loading of 252,000 litres of aviation turbine kerosene (ATK), instead of regular kerosene, into bulk road vehicle (BRV) trucks at the loading gantry between September 21 and 25 , 2021.
Besides, the IMC mentioned the disappearance of 18 drums of electrical cables worth GH¢10.4 million from the technical storehouse of TOR, discovered in April 2021; the disappearance of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) belonging to a client between 2012 and 2015, as a result of which TOR became indebted to the client to the tune of $4.8 million, as confirmed by an Ernst and Young audit, and the loss of Naphtha (a type of flammable oil) to a bulk distribution company.
Giving further insight into the developments, Mr Anku said the affected members of staff were on interdiction, pending investigations into their roles in various malpractices, including pilfering and product losses that cost the refinery millions of dollars.
He also disclosed plans by the committee to procure and install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras for 24-hour monitoring of activities.
In addition, the IMC chairman said the leadership intended to procure smart meters to measure the flow in and flow out of products, as well as the procurement of an automated tank gauging system to monitor products stored in the company’s storage system to help check persistent product losses and other malpractices.
He noted that the absence of those facilities had emboldened the erring members of staff to persist in their nefarious acts, to the detriment of the company.
Mr Anku mentioned pilfering and diversion of products, diversion of company revenue into private pockets and the wrongful signing of contracts that committed the refinery to financial obligations as some serious illegalities that had become entrenched and were working against TOR’s fortunes.
Asked how much was being lost to the nefarious activities on a monthly basis, he said: “If I mention the figure, you will collapse. I do not want to alarm the public, but the good thing is that we are plugging the loopholes and disciplining the culprits.”
The IMC chairman said all was not lost, and expressed the hope that the situation would soon change as the committee rolled out measures to check the malpractices.
According to Mr Anku, the IMC had the tacit approval of the government to execute its mandate, and that it had gone ahead to seek support from state security agencies in the relevant areas.
He said after three months in charge of affairs at TOR, he had come to the conclusion that the company was viable, but that its fortunes were being undermined by some indisciplined members of staff.
“People say it’s politics that is killing TOR, but I do not think so. The problem is about some members of staff who have created loopholes to profit illegally. Fortunately, that will no longer be the case,” he added.
Mr Anku said until plans to procure CCTVs materialised, “we will use our own eyes and the manual systems in place to ensure that every loophole is tightened”.
Energy think tank
Commenting on developments at TOR, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Mr Ben Boakye, said the disclosures by the IMC were a tip of the iceberg.
“What the committee has published is a tip of the iceberg. TOR is more rotten than that. It is our expectation that the committee will put out all the numbers from the leaky company for the public to know how we have successfully turned a business into a debt-making machine,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday.
He alleged that beyond the malpractices by TOR workers, politicians also tended to micro-manage the refinery, leading to financial challenges.
Mr Boakye said ACEP was working on a report on the challenges facing the refinery to help give pointers on how to sustainably revive the company.
An electrical engineer by profession, Mr Anku was tasked by the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to lead a three-member committee to revive TOR after its substantive management was asked to step aside.
The other members of the committee are Mr William Ntim Boadu and Mr Okyere Baffuor Sarpong.
It was initially given three months, but the chairman said the mandate had since been extended.
TOR has the capacity to process 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It runs a mixed mode of tolling and direct crude refining.
Furthermore, the company has the capacity to produce and store 9,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
It can also store 2.6 million barrels of processed and crude oil in its storage facilities in Tema.