BUSINESS : TOR, Bank of Ghana in talks for waiver
Officials of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Monday engaged in talks with the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for a waiver of its Single Obligon Limit (SOL) regulation that restricts commercial banks to grant loans of more than GH¢16 million to TOR.
Following the restriction, TOR was compelled to shut down the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) plant last week, four weeks after an earlier shutdown of the Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) on June 30, this year, because of its inability to establish letters of credit to cover crude oil imports.
Meanwhile 600,000 barrels of crude oil ordered from Nigeria by the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is still in dock at the Tema Port awaiting a successful establishment of letters of credit (LCs) for delivery. Nippon Princess, owned by Chakos Shipping Line, is conveying the consignment and when the letters of credit are establshed, it will dock at the single point mooring (SMP) facility for eventual discharge.
The latest shutdown of the two plants is the third in a series of shutdowns undertaken by the TOR within this year.
In all the instances, the shutdowns had lasted for four weeks, while the restarting processes which were carried out through a gasification process where Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and light gas were put into the system to heat it up before the application of the atmospheric residue (AR) consumed some 20 tonnes of LPG estimated at some $6000.
The intermittent shutdown of the two plants has become a major cause of worry for the workers of the company who have accused the government of failing to prioritise the refinery as one of its important national assets.
The management of the refinery has since the beginning of July been under pressure to establish LCs to take delivery of a consignment ordered from Nigeria through an open market arrangement.
The situation has prompted the Managing Director, Mr Ato Ampiah, to cut short his leave to enable him to adequately resolve the issue for a possible restart of the two plants.
Mr Ampiah told the Daily Graphic that TOR officials were feverishly resolving the issue, saying, “If the LCs go through today, we are likely to begin pumping by tomorrow. TOR has not imported its own crude for the past years, and now that we are making strides in that area, some of these challenges are sure to come about.”
He indicated that although various discussions had been held with the government as a major shareholder on the obligon limit regulation, there was the need for TOR to stand to its status as a limited liability company.
According to him, the minimal structure of commercial banks in the country made it necessary for TOR to ensure that its coffers were efficient, since the government could not order the release of funds in the form of loans when it was not sure monies given out as loans would return appropriately.
“We are making sure that we develop TOR’s efficiency highly by engaging in internal restructuring to salvage the fortunes of refinery, ” he reiterated.
Mr Ampiah said TOR did not want a repetition of the unpleasant challenge they had posed to the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) over the years and were thus in a cautious transition to ensure the refinery’s profitability by the end of the year.
He, on the other hand, gave the assurance that the two plants would resume operations immediately issues surrounding the LCs were resolved.