The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has asked the motoring public to exercise restraint and be assured that the contaminated fuel the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Company sold to Movenpinna and subsequently to ZUPOIL has not hit the market.
Assuring the public, as the regulator of the petroleum sector, that not a drop of the contaminated fuel had hit the market, the acting Chief Executive of the NPA, Mr Alhassan S. Tampuli, said: “Our investigations and the preliminary report indicate that we don’t have any reason to believe that anything has been put onto the market. We are still monitoring.”
He said although BOST sold the product to Movenpinna, the bulk of the product was still “sitting in the BOST tanks. So it has not left the storage of BOST”.
“Some quantities have left the storage of BOST and we, using our tracking devices at the NPA, tracked the vehicles all the way to a facility of ZUPOIL and the management of ZUPOIL was very cooperative.
"We wanted to find the trucks that moved towards that location and what happened to them. The management took us to the storage and we verified that there was some stock there. We took samples; what we are not able to confirm is the quantity certificate or whether or not everything is there, but we have no reason to believe that the product has left the place onto the market.
“So for now, we want to assure the motoring public that the fear and anxiety that the product has hit the market are not consistent with the facts as we have verified," he said.
Reports of the purported release of five million litres of contaminated fuel onto the market by BOST have stirred intense controversy among stakeholders in the oil industry.
While the Ministry of Energy has taken steps to investigate the claim, BOST has denied that there is contaminated oil on the market and rather defended its decision to sell the contaminated fuel to a private company.
The Minority in Parliament, which has joined the fray, has accused the Managing Director of BOST, Mr Alfred Obeng Boateng, of causing financial loss of GH¢14.25 million to the state through the contamination and the subsequent sale of the product to a private company.
Mr Boateng is alleged to have evacuated five million litres of the contaminated product in Tank 121 at the Accra Plains Depot (APD) to Movenpinna/ZUPOIL without recourse to due process or duty of care to the consumer.
A statement issued by the NPA yesterday said the two companies that purchased the over five million litres of contaminated fuel from BOST were not licensed to engage in that transaction.
According to the NPA, it would take legal action against the firms, while “it conducts further investigation to determine the actual quantity and quality of the products received at the facility of ZUPOIL”.
“Additionally, the NPA has noted that Movenpinna Energy and ZUPOIL are not licensed to undertake any commercial activity in the downstream petroleum industry. Their activities, therefore, infringe on Section 11 of the National Petroleum Authority Act, Act 691, 2005.
“It is not an unusual thing to have service providers engaging in the business without licence. What happens is that when the NPA finds out, we go to operations and then we impose the necessary sanctions on those companies. That is what we do and so this case is not out of reality; it happens but we regularise them.
“On this occasion, Movenpinna and ZUPOIL had applied to us for the regularisation of their licences but we needed to do so in accordance with the law,” the statement said.
Contamination occurred on Jan 18, 2017
Meanwhile, BOST has explained that the contamination of the about five million litres of fuel occurred on January 18, 2017 and that it happened as a result of the accidental mixture of petrol and diesel.
In a statement, BOST said the contamination happened before Mr Boateng took over from his predecessor on January 23, 2017.
It said the staff involved in the accidental mixture were sanctioned appropriately
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy is setting up an eight-member committee to unravel the mystery surrounding the purported release of the contaminated fuel or off-spec by BOST onto the market.
The membership of the committee, expected to be inaugurated within one week, will be drawn from key stakeholder institutions, including the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the NPA, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), TOR, the Energy Commission and the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors.
Speaking at a mid-year review and appraisal retreat of agencies and departments under the ministry at Ada in the Greater Accra Region yesterday, the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko, said the committee would be required to submit a detailed investigative report on the issue within one month.
He said the committee would, among other things, determine the circumstances that created the off-spec product, review the procedures taken by BOST to evacuate the product and ascertain the quantity and quality of the remaining product.
“It will also be required to determine if the product can be corrected, and if not, determine the alternative use of the product, as well as review the transaction by BOST,” he added.
Reacting to concerns raised by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and the Minority in Parliament for the acting Managing Director of BOST, Mr Boateng, to step aside to make way for thorough investigations into the matter, Mr Agyarko said the onus was on the committee to determine if the continued stay in office of the managing director would have any direct bearing on its work.
“I would like to assure the public that the ministry is determined to ensure that the integrity of the quality of petroleum products supplied in the country is protected,” he stressed.
At the three-day retreat, the Ministerial Advisory Board for the ministry was inaugurated.
Mr Agyarko, who is the Chairman of the board, said its constitution was in line with the provisions of Section 39 of the Civil Service Act 1993 (PNDCL 327).
Other members of the board are Mr Joseph Cudjoe, the Deputy Minister of Energy; Professor Thomas Akabza, the Chief Director of the Energy Ministry; Mr William Amuna, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo); Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, the CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC), and Mr Theophilus Ahwireng, the CEO of the Petroleum Commission.
The rest are Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Duah, the CEO of the Organisation of Oil Marketing Companies; Nana Addo Tetedo, the President of the Electrical Contractors Association; Mr Senyo Hosi, the acting Managing Director of the Chamber of Bulk Distribution Companies, and Mr Seth Osei-Agyen, the Director of Finance and Administration at the Ministry of Energy.