Adnan Adams Mohammed
An energy consultant is deeply worried about the continuous redundancy of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), as he fears may lead to human capital challenges or ‘brain drain’ soon.
The current situation at TOR has compelled many skilled workers from the refinery to leave the country in search of greener pastures.
This is an indication or signal of brain drain. This situation has a dire consequence on every nation if immediate and critical plans are not implemented to remedy the situation. Information gathered at the refinery say refinery works have currently come to a total halt due to lack of crude oil as workers suspect management has either terminated its contract with Woodfills Company Limited; a company that was contracted to supply 11 million barrels of crude to TOR, or it is on the verge of doing that. This has further worsen the unsure future of the nation’s only refinery.
“In fact, it is already happening, we have a huge brain drain in most of our institutions and TOR is an example. So many qualified and competent people have left TOR over the last decade”, Dr. Yussif Sulemana raised concerns.
“If TOR was on its feet, to be efficient they would have to employ, and probably they would want to employ but the atmosphere and the environment are not rife. How do you employ people when the infrastructure is not running or is not running profitably?” he added.
TOR which is Ghana’s first and only refinery has not been operational for a while now due to many challenges.
Several Civil Society Organizations like the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), had been at the forefront of calls on the government to do all it can to get the refinery back on its feet.
The Energy Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, during a tour of the refinery, expressed the government’s commitment to ensure the facility is up and running as soon as possible.
Commenting on what it would take to get TOR back on its feet, Dr Sulemana stressed that “It will not take rocket science to let TOR run, we only need commitment and leadership at the topmost level.”
Meanwhile, workers of the refinery have agitated that, they are unable to work due to unavailability of some resources and hugely indebtedness of the facility to some utility service providers in the country.
Key among them is the Ghana Water Company Limited GWCL; which has cut water supply to the refinery forclose to one month now due to its (TOR) inability to pay accumulated water bills amounting to GHC4 million asat March 2021.
Currently, the company relies on its 11,200cubic meters capacity water reservoir for its operations.
Water is a key component in petroleum refinery and its unavailability could pose a huge challenge to TOR’soperations. However, the water reservoir could run empty for the first time in the history of the companyin the next 72 hours as at last week Friday, May 21, 2021, if water is not restored. This they say could expose the refinery to greater danger because ofthe flammable nature of their operations.
“As we speak, because of the water cut to the facility, we are running on the reservoir of the company that has acapacity of 11.200 cubic meters for water. It will interest you to know that this reservoir has never gone dry but as we speak in the next three days, it will run dry if water is not restored. Water is an essential part of petroleum refinery and the fact that we do not have water means we are exposed to greater danger should there be any eventualities at the plant”, deep source within TOR hinted.
It has also emerged that apart from water, TOR owes the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to the tune of some GHC2.3 million in arrears.
Apart from utilities, investigations uncovered that the company also owes workers Provident Fund to the tune of about GHC34 million; a situation that has made it difficult for workers who are due to access their funds. Some workers complained of untold hardships that this has brought to bear on them.
“I was supposed to receive my benefit in December last year but it was not available. June 2021 will be the turnof another batch of workers to access their funds. The question we are asking is ; how is management going to make these payments when it is accumulated. We are really going through a lot as workers of TOR under this management, ” he fumed.
Additionally, the company is also said to be struggling to pay Tiers one and two of its workers’ Social Security and National Insurance SNNIT levies which is in arrears to the tune of some GHC21 million.
There are also concerns about the mode of recent appointments at TOR amidst its current financial predicament.
In a recent notice to its staff, the Human Resources and Administrative Manager announced the appointment of one Mr. Charles Anafi; a former Principal Engineer of the refinery as its new Optimization Manager- a position that did not exist in the past.
According to a notice to workers on the appointment, the HR and Administrative General Manager, Jane Ohenewaa Gyekye, indicated that the role of the newly created ‘Optimization Manager’ is to “commercially optimize the overall refinery’s operations, study market trends and recommend useful technology/ process to improve the refinery’s viability and commercial position to achieve the company’s revenue target.”
Documents available indicate that similar appointments have been made regarding over 10 workers including one Frank Kwaku Duah who has been appointed as the acting inspections Manager at the plant as recent as March 12, 2021.
This action by management has angered workers of the refinery.
“As we speak now, we are not working because most of our equipment are down and there is no crude; yet instead of using the meagre resources available to retool the facility, we are making matters worse.”
Our sources say refinery works have currently come to a total halt due to lack of crude oil. They say they suspect management has either terminated its contract with Woodfills Company Limited; a company that was contracted to supply 11 million barrels of crude to TOR, or it is on the verge of doing that.
According to the workers, thi
s will further deepen the woes of TOR if the contract of Woodfills is abrogated.
On this basis, the TOR Workers Union have petitioned the president of the Republic, Nana Akufo Addo on a number of occasions over the alleged mismanagement of the state entity.
It is not clear yet what the president’s action will be. However, it can be confirmed that there is a growing anger within the workers of TOR over the MD’s continues stay in office.