THE Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Mr Isaac Osei, says staff of the refinery deserved commendation for their hard work and good counsel, which, he said, has helped to reverse the deterioration that the refinery endured prior to 2017.
He mentioned the improvements in the operations of the refinery and the successful undertaking of a routine maintenance in 2017 – the first since 2009 – as some of the fruits of the staff’s commitment to the company.
Addressing stakeholders in the petroleum business in Houston in the United States of America (USA), Mr Osei said although the turnaround project was yet to be concluded, it was obvious that TOR was now at a better place than it was a couple of years back.
Its current state, he said, was the result of the refinery’s “well qualified engineers and technicians who work and provide advice.”
“These are the people who have worked with TOR, at least, to bring it into an operable state.
“So, the credit must go to the hundreds of engineers that we have,” he said in a reply to a contributor who praised the MD for helping to turn the refinery around after taking office in 2017.
Expatiating further on the impact of the staff on the fortunes of the refinery, the MD said 2017, when a routine maintenance was carried out on the plant and equipment, TOR had not shut down for maintenance since 2009.
“However, in 2017, we had to shut down and when we did that, most of the work was done by our own engineers and technicians.
“Today, I can say that having tested the equipment, we know that TOR is a better place than it was a couple of years back but we are not there yet,” he said.
Mr Osei also admitted that although TOR was in a better position currently than he met it, “it is not where it ought to be and that is the reality on the ground.”
He thus assured that measures were in place to ensure that the refinery regained its lost glory.
Searching for partners
The MD observed that TOR’s average cost at the moment was too high and blamed it on its inability to produce at peak capacity of 45,000 barrels per day.
In 2017, one of the refinery’s furnaces got burnt in an accident that heralded Mr Osei’s appointment to office. The explosion constricted TOR’s capacity to 25,000 barrels per stream a day.
To help address the capacity and reduce the impact on cost, he said the refinery would soon replace the burnt furnace.
“In addition, we intend to revamp to 60,000 barrels a day,” he said.
He added that the refinery was also in search of partners to help its sole shareholder, the Government of Ghana, to invest in retooling the plant.
“Our only and maim shareholder is the government and the government cannot bear the fiscal burden.
“I believe that the minister set the tone when he said that we are all looking for partnerships and I thank him very much because that is what we are actively looking for; to bring private sector partners on board to enable us first, to increase capacity and secondly to ensure that we adhere to regulations which have been set by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and, which all African refiners must accede to by the end of 2020,” he said.
In 2017, the NPA reduced the sulphur content in petroleum products used in the country from 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm in line with efforts to help reduce the health hazards of products with high sulphur contents.
Although firms in the down and midstream petroleum subsectors were made to comply with the directive in mid-2017, the NPA gave TOR up to 2020 to comply.
The Africa Refiners Association (ARA), of which TOR is a member, however, allows member refineries to refine and export products with ppm higher than 50ppm.