Ghana risks losing millions of dollars in oil revenue following the revelation that the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (MV FPSO Kwame Nkrumah) platform at the Jubilee Field is operating without its exporting flow meter.
It has also emerged that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the Ministry of Energy, the two regulators in the industry, have been using a system called ullaging, in which a ruler is used to manually calculate the amount of oil meant for export.
Interestingly, officials from the two regulatory bodies have confirmed to the Daily Graphic that they were aware that the flow meter on the FPSO had not been functioning.
Oil industry experts, however, say that there is nowhere in the world where the quantity of the bulky liquid commodity is determined or measured manually.
Information reaching the Daily Graphic indicated that anytime a vessel arrived to lift oil for the world market, the issue always ended in a heated argument between officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the buyers.
However, officials of the GRA and other officials are not allowed on board the tankers and, therefore, the quantity of oil is determined by officers representing the buyers.
Representatives of the buyers, according to sources, rather supplied the revenue agencies with figures on the amount of oil exported, something which the experts say is unacceptable.
The experts are baffled as to why the gas and water injection meters on the FPSO are working, while the export flow meter is not.
“If the whole super infrastructure was built within record time, it could have taken three days to procure the flow meter,” one of the experts said.
When contacted, a research analyst and communication officer of the Ministry of Energy, Mr Edward Bawa, said there was no basis for concerns that the country was being short-changed in revenue from its oil exports because of the manual measure employed in determining the quantities of oil for export.
He said the use of a dip-stick, or ullaging, as it is known, was not new, noting that currently it was what was employed in measurements for exports where there was no export flow meter.
He explained that oil was not pumped directly from the oil wells into export vessels but was first pumped into tanks on the FPSO with known capacities before being pumped into oil exporting vessels.
Moreover, all other metering devices and measures for quantities of oil being produced were in order, except the export flow meters, hence the use of the dip-stick.
He said when the FPSO discharged into exporting vessels, it was from a known capacity and the dip-stick was used similarly to measure for all partners.
He said the Ministry of Energy had already acquired flow meters to be installed by the end of June or the beginning of July.
Mr Bawa promised Ghanaians that the government would not engage in anything untoward to short-change them.