Ghana’s Tema Oil Refinery denies alleged Chinese takeover push amid whistleblower claims

By Kent Mensah in Accra April 11, 2024

The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) in Ghana has refuted claims of a potential takeover by Sentuo Oil Refinery Ltd, a Chinese-owned entity, amidst allegations raised by the head of anti-corruption watchdog ASEPA, reports Joy News.

ASEPA executive director Mensah Thompson's assertions, stemming from a whistleblower alert received on April 4, suggested a clandestine meeting between TOR management and Sentuo, purportedly discussing the national refinery's sale.

ASEPA further disclosed details alleging the meeting's occurrence at TOR premises, followed by celebrations at Sentuo, writes Joy News.

In response, the watchdog invoked the Right to Information Law, seeking clarification on the relationship between TOR and Sentuo, and whether any transfer of TOR's operations had occurred.

Contrary to these claims, TOR, in a statement issued on April 10, vehemently denied engagement in any talks regarding the refinery's sale while stressing that no unapproved mergers or acquisitions had taken place.

TOR clarified its existing arrangement with Sentuo, involving crude oil storage and subsequent pumping for refining purposes, emphasising transparency in its dealings with stakeholders.

Asserting its autonomy, TOR assured stakeholders of open communication regarding any significant developments, reaffirming its steadfast commitment to independent management.

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in March nominated an 11-member board of directors to oversee operations at TOR. The 45,000 barrel per day (bpd) facility has been plagued by issues since an explosion at its crude distillation unit (CDU) in early 2017 and was closed completely between July 2020 and January 2021.

Outages have been experienced at the CDU and fluid catalytic cracking units, while only one of the CDU’s furnaces was operational as of 2023, giving the 56-year-old facility a theoretical throughput capacity of 20,000-30,000 bpd.

The Institute for Energy Security (IES) had previously called on Akufo-Addo to as a matter of urgency rescue TOR from collapse.

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