Ghana is at risk of a sudden petroleum supply crunch as the current main infrastructure for receiving refined petroleum products is yet to undergo major overhaul, 13 years after it was installed.
The equipment was due for comprehensive maintenance several years ago but this has not been done despite obvious depreciation due to intense usage.
According to the 2018 Industry Report for Ghana’s Petroleum Downstream, the country’s overdependence on a 13-year mooring facility is the biggest infrastructure risk to the country’s petroleum product supply since a major overhaul is long overdue.
It is instructive that an overhaul of the CBM has not been done despite its deteriorating state in part because there is currently no effective alternative equipment available for offloading imported petroleum in the capacities it is required to handle.
While there are no immediate signs of breakdown, engineers and technicians fret that in its current state this could happen suddenly, with very little forewarning. They note that it was not even meant to handle its current throughput, which has risen well beyond the original anticipation due to Tema Oil Refinery’s operating well below installed capacity.
The Conventional Buoy Mooring (CBM) remains the country’s major facility for receiving petroleum products, and this situation exposes the country to supply risk in the event of damage to the facility, the report stated.
The CBM facility is meant for the offloading of refined petroleum products from tanker vessels of capacities up to 75,000 tonnes (dead weight) into designated storage facilities, such as the Tema Tank Farm.
There have been reports indicating that fisher folks hook their anchor to the CBM when carrying out fishing activities creating the possibility of collision between fishing boats and offloading petroleum product tankers.
Actually, the use of the tank farm itself presents another danger to Ghana’s petroleum product supply chain.
The new report cites over reliance on the Tema enclave for product storage as a further challenge.
Aside the threat of the main supply facility, the report indicates that the over concentration of storage facilities in the Tema enclave poses a security challenge to the availability of products across the country. Any challenges with the delivery of product and receipt in and out of the enclave can pose major risk to the supply of products across the country.
“The implications of these threats are of national security significance. It is, therefore, imperative that steps are taken to develop an alternate (CBM) facility competent enough to insulate the country from this risk,” the report recommends.
The problem of the CBM facility being overdue for maintenance is not the only danger to the downstream petroleum products supply chain currently; For instance, in April 2017, a wooden craft caught fire 50 meters away from a vessel that was discharging petroleum products, causing vessels scheduled to discharge during the period to be delayed in order to resolve the issue.
Ghana’s gross national consumption reached 4.46 million metric tonnes (mt) in 2018. Petroleum products consumption in 2018 was about 3.88 million mt, 12.3 percent higher than 2017’s consumption of 3.46 million mt.