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TOR comes alive. Makes profit first, in seven years

BY: Della Russel Ocloo & Emmanuel Mordey
 Workers of TOR at the May Day parade in Wa. Picture: EBOW HANSON

The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has begun showing signs of profitability after seven years in the doldrums.

The refinery posted a profit of $800,000 from its operations from February 16 to April 20, 2016, a development described by industrial watchers as a sign of the possible revival of the company, whose latest  profit is the first in seven years.

The success story of TOR resonated at the May Day parade in Wa in the Upper West Region last Sunday, where a section of TOR workers had travelled to thank President John Dramani Mahama for setting the company back on track to recovery.

 

In his speech at the May Day event, the President said a close collaboration among labour, management and the government at TOR and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) Company had yielded a positive result.

Supporting the President, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, alluded to the fact that not only had those combined efforts brought back the crippled national asset but also restored national dignity and security.

Under an arrangement, TOR processed one million barrels of crude oil supplied by BOST.

The refinery tumbled to a sorry state in 2009 from huge debts that had suffocated its operations. 

However, it secured a deal for TOR to refine crude oil for BOST.

The refinery is expected to make an additional profit of $1.5 million after the second consignment of a million barrels is  processed from May to August 2016.

Under the arrangement, TOR will receive the third and the fourth parcels of a million barrels in May and June 2016.

Thanksgiving service

To celebrate the success chalked up so far, a thanksgiving service was held at the refinery in Tema over the weekend.

The service, on the theme: “Thanking God for TOR”, was aimed at celebrating the goodness of God for reviving the fortunes of the refinery.

Dressed in white apparels, the workforce and the management danced and praised God for His mercies.

Speaking at the service, the acting Managing Director, Mr Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko, declared that the spiritual battle that faced the refinery was over.

He maintained that TOR would not just have solid operations but also have its debts taken off its books, given the number of initiatives that had been put in place.

Mr. kwame Awuah Darko, MD of TOR leading the workers to dance to music provided by the Tema Youth Choir

Mr Awuah-Darko, who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BOST, indicated that the crude oil purchase agreement with TOR was part of measures by BOST to move away from importing finished products at huge costs.

According to him, whereas finished petroleum products had a lifespan of 90 days, after which they began to lose efficacy, crude oil had a longer lifespan and would not degenerate when stored as strategic stock.

“Strategic stocks of many countries are in the form of crude oil, since it has a longer lifespan. Moreover, importing finished petroleum products means that we are exporting jobs and livelihoods to other nations, at the expense of our people,” he said.

Challenges

The refinery went on its knees in 2009 following the government’s inability to inject capital into its operations.

That led to many of its skilled engineers and technicians leaving for the Gulf countries in search of greener pastures.

Members of the workers union were incensed at several failed promises, and a subsequent attempt by the government to privatise its storage and loading gantry facilities to a private company led to widespread agitation among the workers, with the Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL) and the TUC launching a campaign dubbed “Save Tema Oil Refinery”.

Restructuring debts

The company, which hitherto was not profit worthy, leading to several companies suspending dealings with it, has seen the present management stepping up with various measures, including the surprise surrender of a month’s salary by the workers in October 2015 to salvage the company.

Mr Awuah-Darko revealed that TOR presently had crude oil obligations to four banks sitting in its books awaiting to be cleared.

The management, he said, was in talks with the banks to convert the debts into a 10-year GH¢1 billion bond.

He also indicated that the energy levy which had a component of the TOR Recovery Levy made up of eight per cent per litre would be used to pay the interest on the bond.

Staff welfare

He hinted that with the collective bargaining agreement about to commence with the various unions of the workforce, management would ensure that the parties negotiated in good faith.

He also announced that a profit-sharing pool had been created for the purpose of allocating 10 per cent of profits made to the pool to be shared among all workers for the sacrifices they had made to resuscitate the refinery.

He, however, warned that the principle of ‘no contribution, no chop’ would be applied, hence the need for all to work hard.

Mr Awuah-Darko gave assurance of his determination to end the casual work status, which he described as inhumane and unacceptable and promised to end the phenomenon by changing the status of casual workers to a permanent one, an announcement which was greeted with resounding applause and screams.

Union

The Chairman of the TOR Senior Staff Union, Mr Daniel Fugar, commended the management for the achievement.

He said the partnership with BOST had proved profitable and urged management to sustain it.

“The long struggles and the advocacy campaigns done by the union and its stakeholders have paid off and we are excited about the rebound,” he said.