Analysts in the oil and gas sector are upbeat about government’s plans to revamp operations of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
Though they have largely lauded the move, the industry watchers have suggested the need to attract private sector participation in order to achieve the full objectives.
The comments also follow recent fuel shortage and its impact in Neighbouring Nigeria.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta gave the latest assurance of revamping the operations of the Tema Oil Refinery in December 2017.
According to him, this will also dwell largely on the collaboration between government and the private sector.
“Things are changing and by the first quarter 2018, we expect the TOR to run continuously again… the higher strategic goal is to engage local and international partners to significantly expand its storage and refinery capacity,” he stated.
TOR refinery quantities revised
The Tema Oil Refinery had since the commercial exploration of oil in 2010, been saddled with numerous challenges that have also hampered its refinery capacities.
TOR had been tipped to increase its refinery productions from 16 to 18 million barrels, but it is yet to achieve this aim.
In addition, the revision of the sulphur specification content for diesel in Ghana from 1000 parts per million to 50 parts per million, requires a robust refinery to meet the standard.
The Executive Director of the Institute of Energy Security, (IES), Paa Kwesi Anamuah Sakyi is optimistic of the plan.
But he wants Ghana to do more and tap into the benefits that neighbouring Nigeria is perhaps missing out on.
“Another assurance came from the Petroleum Minister saying that before the end of 2017, the refinery will start that one didn’t materialize…The advantage we have from Tema Oil Refinery is that the about four refineries in Nigeria are not working. So if we are able to get TOR on stream we will be able to take advantage of the Nigerian market and some West African markets as well.”
Aside welcoming the decision, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye also believes efforts must be put in place to position TOR to refine to the current 50 parts per million requirement for diesel in Ghana.
“Even now with the sulphur standards that have been implemented, that is the 50 ppm, TOR cannot refine to that standard and therefore they need capital injection to retool the plant to make it compliant with our own regulations and laws,” he asserted.
Private sector participation
It may perhaps suggest that the government will have no option than to stick to a plan to aggressively include the private sector in meeting the relatively huge capital injection needed to hit the ambitious target as scheduled.
In Mr. Anamuah Sakyi’s view, capital injection from the private sector will dependent on assurances on Return on Investments.
“Even if government needs additional inputs into Tema Oil Refinery, it can source for this financing within the country because people are willing to invest in the refinery. If only government shows a clear path that people will have returns for investments they make into the refinery.”
Meanwhile Benjamin Boakye also claimed, “The company needs some serious capital injection which we will advise government to put in the money. So if the government is not going to put in the money, then we will advise that it calls on the private sector to inject the capital to ensure that it can be efficient and refine products in order that it can compete on the market.”