TOR to resume operations

After almost two years of inactivity, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is set to resume operations.

Already the production work at the residual fluid catalytic cracking unit (RFCC) has resumed, while refining at the crude distillation unit (CDU) of the refinery will start on Thursday, February 11, this week.

The resumption of operations of TOR followed an agreement the refinery signed with the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Limited (BOST) for the supply of crude oil for refining.

The agreement required BOST to procure the crude oil for the refinery to process for a fee, since the refinery still has debts in its books and, as such, will not be able to readily secure letters of credit (LCs) from financial institutions to revamp its operations.

A source at TOR told the Daily Graphic that about three million barrels of crude oil would be supplied in the coming weeks to sustain production activities at the two plants.

‘Since we already have some residue available for processing into gasoline and other products, a decision was taken to start up the RFCC, while the CDU would be made to resume operations by Thursday by which time delivery would have been completed at the Single Point Mooring (SPM) facility at the Tema Port,’ Mr Kwame Awuah Darko, the acting Managing Director of TOR, said.

 Mr Awuah Darko, who also confirmed the commencement of production, however, failed to give detailed information relating to the agreement between TOR and BOST.

He, however, gave an assurance that the resumption of operation was set to mark a turning point in the life of TOR.

Close down of the finery
The refinery, which went on its knees in 2009, following the government’s inability to inject capital into its operations, saw many of its skilled engineers and technicians sojourning in the Gulf countries in search of greener pastures.

Members of the workers union were incensed at several failed promises, and a subsequent attempt by the government to privatise the refinery’s storage and loading gantry facilities to a private company led to widespread agitations among the workers’ union, with the Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL) and the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) launching a campaign dubbed ‘Save Tema Oil Refinery’.

That move, the management of TOR claimed, was to make the private company a strategic partner to revamp the refinery.

Challenges
Operational challenges that faced the refinery, at a point, made it impossible for its management to raise letters of credit (LCs) for crude oil imports.

An operational framework between the commercial banks and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) that restricted the banks from raising LCs to a certain limit, depending on the business structure, also impacted on the refinery’s operations.

The government, in 2011, promised the refinery $67 million to enable its managers to conduct a plant stabilisation and profit-enhancement programme.

That promise, however, failed to materialise after an initial release of $37 million to revamp the facility.

The leadership of the workers union, who was happy at the resumption of activities at the refinery, expressed the hope that it would serve as a turning point in the life of TOR.


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