Ghana is estimated to have lost about GH¢1billion from the sale of 200 million litres of diesel which could not be accounted for between 2015 and 2016.
Although the said quantities of the product did not get to their intended destinations, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) said the records available pointed to the fact that the trucks which loaded the products did in fact get to the destination countries.
The countries are Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali.
However, regulators of the downstream sector in the three countries denied the report as they contended that their laws barred Ghanaian trucks from entering their respective countries.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, Mr Hassan Tampuli, who was involved in a fact-finding mission to unravel the mystery behind the smuggling of the diesel, said records at the country’s border also proved otherwise.
“In 2015, the records that we have reviewed showed that export of diesel from Ghana to neighbouring countries Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali was 10 million litres.
“In 2016, export to these three countries increased from 10 million litres to 190 million litres, and this clearly shows that there is something wrong with the figures.
“This forced the NPA to verify for itself the export in those countries, but regulators in those countries could not verify whether those products made their way into those countries because their laws barred Ghanaian trucks from entering those countries,” he said.
Mr Tampuli, who was speaking at a luncheon of members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Ghana as part of its oil and gas month, said more than 1,000 trucks were involved in the movement of the product.
“Unfortunately for these people, we have the records of all their transactions; more than 1,000 trucks were involved in this anomaly, we also know the names of the drivers and their contacts.
“These people were previously laughing but now they are before the security agencies to answer to whatever they have done,” he said.
To help curb the anomaly in future, Mr Tampuli said the Economic Management Team of the government had issued new export guidelines to address the menace of dumping petroleum products meant for export onto the local market.
Categories of licences
Mr Tampuli explained that NPA issued 30 different categories of licences to applicants to undertake business operations in the petroleum industry.
“Some of the licences issued include bulk distribution company (BDC) licences, oil marketing company (OMC) licences, liquefied petroleum gas marketing company (LPGMC) licences, oil trading company (OTC) licences and petroleum products export licences,” he mentioned.
He said the NPA had recently granted 41 BDC licences, 102 OMC licences, 41 LPGMC licences, 14 OTC licences and 201 export licences.
He stated that the authority also regulated the construction and operations of all petroleum facilities in the country.
According to him, those facilities which were part of the downstream sector must be operated in line with the authority’s prescribed standard of performance.
“We currently have 3,605 outlets in the country, comprising 2,970 retail outlets and 635 LPG filling plants. There are 11 licensed storage depot operators with total storage capacity of over one million tonnes, as well as two refineries,” he added.
Petroleum service providers
The CEO of the NPA said the authority was also reviewing the operations of all petroleum service providers in the downstream industry for efficiency and growth of the sector.
That, Mr Tampuli said, would also help address the myriad of challenges faced by players in the industry.
“A comprehensive review of the BDCs in the industry has been done, which may lead to a reduction in the number of BDCs by the end of the year.
Indeed, only about six BDCs out of the total number of BDCs account for the about 52 per cent of all imported petroleum products,” he said.
He observed that the petroleum downstream industry was one of the key sub-sectors and a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The industry currently boasts more than 5,000 service providers and an annual sale of about GH¢13.5 billion, according to the 2016 estimates, and constituted eight per cent of the country’s entire GDP.
The amount covered all activities involved in the procurement and importation of crude oil and refined products, refining of crude oil, storage, marketing and distribution of petroleum products.