Monday, March 25, 2013

TOR workers accuse political mafia of running down the refinery

Workers at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) are expressing fears that the $30 million government has released to resume production at the site will go waste if President John Mahama does not lead a campaign to get rid of the top politicians who are deliberately running the refinery down for private gains.

They allege that these officials own or have huge shares in bulk distribution companies and profit from renting the TOR’s storage facilities to hold their imports.

TOR workers suspect the so-called mafia is behind ECO Petroleum, Fuel Trade and Shelico, among other firms.

As they wait to resume production this weekend, the workers’ leadership declared its intention to explore all avenues to protect the workers’ interests.

Joy News’ Eric Ahianyo has been investigating the TOR situation and reports that Chairman of the Senior Staff Workers Union Daniel Fugah and Head of the Local Workers Union Emmanuel Eduah Offoh consider the situation dire.

At full capacity, the Tema Oil Refinery produces 45,000 barrels per day, which is about 60 percent of Ghana’s current fuel demand.

Since its establishment 50 years ago, it has undergone two major expansions, first in 1997 when the Crude Distillation Unit increased capacity from 28,000 to 45,000 barrels per day and again in 2002 when the Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) was built.

With the RFCC at full capacity, the Refinery can meet all the country’s LPG, Aviation Fuel and kerosene needs.

Workers say TOR’s huge debt, now estimated at around $300 million, could have been avoided if politicians had not micromanaged the facility’s operations.

They claim the facility is being deliberately run down by businessmen with top political links so they can sell it to themselves.

They say they are tired of arm-twisting for cheap political gains and are gearing up for a faceoff with the so-called mafia.

Managing Director of the Refinery Ato Ampiah has denied knowledge of any such mafia.

He said the major problem facing TOR is the continuous under-recovery due to subsidies on petroleum prices.

He said with the current production levels, there is a need to rely on companies to import finished products to cover shortfalls in production.

He is convinced that with full cost recovery and proper investment, the facility will operate at full capacity.

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