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Sahara Saves Mills

oil tankerAfter months of grueling embarrassment and shadow-chasing for crude oil, President John Evans Atta Mills has been saved from further ado by Sahara Oil Company, the organization his government demonized and shunned.

But even after the Sahara-arranged delivery of the lifeline supply of 997,000 barrels of crude oil, which took only three days to accomplish, government as at the time of going to press last night, was frantically running around for letters of credit (LCs) to support the transaction, with all banks running away from the TOR deal because of over exposure.

The Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) could not acquiesce to government’s request for letters of credit (LCs), leaving the Mills Administration with the only available option of turning to the last resort- Bank of Ghana.

Earlier, Alex Kofi Mould, Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), had told Oman FM’s Fiifi Boafo that it was difficult to lay hands on an $80m letters of credit (LCs) from a single bank. The only way out, he said, was to organize a syndicate of banks towards that goal.

Even as government officials run around frantically, the vessel MV Wilhelmina, which sailed from Nigeria and landed at Tema on Sunday evening, was still anchored in Ghanaian waters with no discharge being undertaken.

The sudden U-turn to Sahara, considered the eating of a humble pie by government, is a subject dreaded by officials in relevant agencies, at least when they are talking to the media. The Head of Public Affairs at TOR, Abba Lokko, when she was speaking to a radio station last night, evaded questions pertaining to the subject when she politely said, “Do not go in that direction because I would not know what went into that decision”.

Sources said government is divided over the Sahara deal, especially when the NDC in opposition had said that it would review the deal struck by the previous NPP administration. DAILY GUIDE has learnt that some TOR personnel, as a norm, boarded the vessel to draw samples of the product for quality testing and to establish that it matches import specifications.

Even before winning the last elections and subsequently coming into power, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) painted a not-too-good picture about the Sahara arrangement, as entered into by the Kufuor-led NPP administration.

They served notice of terminating the deal because, according to them, the arrangement was anything but transparent. It was not surprising therefore when one of the first actions they took, when they assumed power, was to terminate the Sahara-facilitated deliveries of crude oil from Nigeria.

This was the beginning of a troubled crude oil management regime in the country, a situation which was preceded by an elaborate and complex maintenance of the refinery. Workers at the facility were not charitable to the government for their idleness since the refinery was starved of crude oil to work on.

When he went to the facility recently, the President could not be definite with a date on which the first delivery was going to be made. Previous announcements about docking of crude oil consignments from Nigeria turned out to be hoaxes.

A political commentator, angry about the emanating embarrassment over the seemingly unfeasible deliveries and the varying announcements and statements on the subject, called for the schooling of government ministers on information management.

Source: dailyguideghana

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