The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) will produce high volumes of aviation turbine kerosene (ATK) when it refines crude oil from the Tweneboa, Enyera and Ntomme (TEN) fields in the Western Region.
Officials of TOR say they believe that the supply of the TEN crude will make it easier for the company to produce higher volumes than the present 20 per cent of ATK devoid of contamination.
“The assay (chemical composition) of Ghana’s crude is such that we can refine it with ‘our eyes closed’ and with the delivery of one million barrels from the TEN fields, we will prove to everybody that we can comfortably refine and get the expected yield of products,” the General Manager in charge of Production at TOR, Mr Easmon Asamoah, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Tema.
We are capable
He said the delivery of the crude was confirmation of the long-held view by the workers that TOR’s machinery and personnel were capable of processing local crude.
He was of the view that apart from refining locally produced crude at TOR more cost effectively, its availability to the refinery would also ensure consistent supply and further reduce the company’s operational cost in the area of import duty.
Presently, of some 20,000 metric tonnes national consumption, Puma Energy and Ebony Oil and Gas supply some 80 per cent of demand, while TOR produces 20 per cent of the market share.
TOR’s refinery operations suffered a setback from 2008 to 2014 as a result of huge debts that suffocated its operations, leading to its inability to procure crude oil for production.
The situation led to widespread protests by the workers union, who also asked the government to make available crude oil from the Jubilee fields as a respite to its operations.
The government, however, rejected the call, arguing that TOR’s machinery were not compatible with the vanadium (metal) content of Jubilee crude, a suggestion the then Managing Director, Mr Ato Ampiah, rejected vehemently and insisted that TOR had the capacity to process crude from any part of the world.
Mr Asamoah explained that with the processing of the TEN crude underway, the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) which had for a long time been run at a low capacity was now running at full capacity.
“With our scheduled turnaround maintenance scheduled for February 2016, we will need consistent supply of crude to process, so that by the time the plants are shut down, we would have finished products in stock for sale,” he explained.
He said with the CDU’s capacity back to 45,000 barrels per stream day (psd), refining one million barrels could take 23 days.
Mr Asamoah expressed the hope that the 2017 projection to acquire some eight to 10 million barrels of crude oil from the TEN fields would materialised.
The Quality Control Manager at TOR, Mr Augustus Tawiah Wiredu, for his part, told the Daily Graphic that laboratory analysis to identify the salt content of the crude had proved positive.
He indicated that the analysis also showed that the Total Acid Number (TAN) had reported less than 0.05, an indication that the potential of corrosion challenges was virtually non-existent.
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA), in October 2016, revised the national sulphur content specification for diesel from 1,000 parts per million (ppm) to between 500 and 10 ppm after concerns had been raised over the quality of imported diesel which was said to have a very high sulphur content which could be a potential risk for motorists and the public.
The low salt content, Mr Wiredu suggested, would give a breather to the refinery, as there would be less pressure on the refinery’s desalter (a unit that removes salt from crude oil), making the refining of the crude much easier.
“The choice of crude is very critical if Ghana is to meet the target of lower sulphur content in diesel, especially when the country is not ready to invest in hydro-desulphurisers which would require the need to blend to meet the required standards,” he stressed.
In a related development, the leadership of the Senior and Junior Staff unions of TOR have described the delivery of TEN crude as welcome news.
According to Mr Kofi Amoo Asante, the Chairman of the Senior Staff Union, and Mr Enoch, the Secretary of the Junior Staff, the workers felt vindicated by current happenings in relation to the refining of local crude.
While crediting the feat to initiatives taken by the present management, the two were of the view that the sustainability of the company’s operations going beyond 2017 would be a key determinant of how the Ghanaian cedi would perform against major currencies and expressed the hope that a new management would build up from where the present management would leave off.