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Petrol Crisis Looms

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A debilitating fuel shortage looms as the country’s reserve stocks dry up. The situation has been aggravated by the almost unfruitful search for a reliable source of crude oil to feed the vegetating Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).

As at last Monday, the petrol stock available for serving at the pump stations countrywide was such a pitiable quantity that unless a supply ship arrives, the pockets of dried up filling points would increase.

The ‘no petrol’ or ‘no super’ signs continue to increase across the country, especially within Accra. Wa in the Upper West Region suffered a terrible shortage of the energy source that many SOS calls were sent by residents to Accra, with a view to remedying the precarious situation.

One of the callers lamented how students of the University of Development Studies (UDS), Wa campus, were suffering as a result of their inability to fuel their motorbikes for commuting purposes.

Black market operators are making a brisk business as they sell the product at cut-throat prices. What is not in shortage at the filling stations is what the petroleum industry calls the differentiated product- the Shell’s V-Power, Goil’s G-Plus and Total’s Effimax.

At filling stations which have stocks of petrol, it is mostly the aforementioned range which is available because of their relatively small demand. They are designed for modern cars and noted for their speed quality with their 95 Octane rating as opposed to Super’s 90.

An industry source has told DAILY GUIDE that the situation, as it prevails, is that as soon as a supply ship arrives and the product distributed, this is quickly lapped. Since there is no reserve stock and any inclination to replenish the depleted stock, the situation is not helped in anyway.

The differentiated products are spent faster because of their qualities, especially the quantity of spirit it contains; but consumers are here and there compelled to patronize it, given that they have no option.

At a critical press conference held yesterday by staff of TOR, concerns were raised about why government abrogated the deal with Sahara. This line of supply of crude oil to feed TOR proved consistent ever since it was contracted by the erstwhile Kufuor Administration, a consistency which has remained mind-boggling to industry watchers since Ghana started suffering the tribulations of unreliable fuel supply to the economy.

The staff of TOR expressed amazement at what for them is an irony of the situation where the supply line by Sahara to the nation’s refinery has been severed, but that to the Aboadze Thermal Plant in Takoradi remains operational.

The irony, it has been observed, appears to give credence to the allegation that some top government officials are benefiting from the adhoc supply arrangement as it is more beneficial to individual power brokers in the system.

Kofi Wayo, a self-acclaimed petroleum industry expert, reportedly expressed disgust at what, for him, was the benefiting from the prevailing finished product supply system. Wayo accused the current administrators of the oil regime of profiting from the finished import, arranged for private oil marketers.

The Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) are said to be benefiting from an unprecedented windfall occasioned by the now consistent reliance on the importation of finished products from elsewhere.

This, it has been alleged, is being done with the active connivance of government officials- a situation which could witness a prolonged dependence on the status quo. Oil politics was applied a great deal by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its opposition days. On the campaign trail, the party relied on it to sling mud on the then NPP government for, as it were, selling petroleum products at exorbitant prices.

No wonder when the party came to power, Ghanaians yelled when it increased the price of the products. The party quickly made good its promise of abrogating the Sahara arrangement, a development which TOR staff see as the origin of the continuing petroleum products malaise in the country.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the Sahara arrangements were far better than what the NPP Administration inherited from the previous NDC Government, when Vitol was the lifting company. While Vitol was charging $2 on a barrel of crude, Sahara was receiving 20 cents for the same quantity.

The imminent price increase of petroleum products is not helping matters, with members of the public isolating insincerity in government’s management of key issues like the one under review. The non-arrival of crude oil shipment from Nigeria, even after an assortment of announcements to that effect was made by the government communication machinery, has not helped matters either.

Source: dailyguideghana

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