– Shocking!

…President Akufo-Addo says to forestall future occurrence Ghana must stop producing off-spec fuel

A window into the President’s grasp of the issues surrounding the sale of 5million litres of contaminated fuel by the Bulk Oil, Storage  and Transportation (BOST) Company Limited was kicked open on Tuesday, this week, when an attempt to address the matter led to a knowledge-shock.

In answer to Joy FM’s Evans Mensah’s invitation to state his position on the discredited BNI report that absolves the BOST MD, Alfred Obeng Boateng, of wrongdoing, President Akufo-Addo said the way forward was to have the country stop producing off-spec fuel!

“First of all, the need for regulation, again and whether or not we can in fact stop the production of off-spec products by improving all the various mechanisms and processes in place, infrastructure and the rest.”

The position has come as a massive shock as it is common knowledge that contaminated fuel category of off-spec products are not produced, but are outcome of accidents.

The BOSTGATE scandal, in the thick of which Alfred Obeng Boateng is, entails the supposed accidental mix of diesel with petrol.

Five million litres, the equivalent of 1.3million gallons of contaminated fuel, is the consequence of the supposed accidental mixture.

Since the breaking of the scandal, a seeming attempt by the BOST MD to bamboozle ordinary citizens by using the off-spec terminology has fiercely been resisted by experts in the cause of the national interest.

A deodorization of the public discourse has led to explanation that contaminated fuel is different from slop and sludge, among other things, and that the 5million litres concerns the spoliation of diesel with petrol.

It has also been pointed out that under normal circumstance, the contamination of that large amount of fuel is a freak accident that companies hired by BOST to take charge of such matters must be questioned about and possibly surcharged for.

Several weeks down the line, the President is still showing that he does not understand the issues involved, claiming the country must stop producing off-spec fuel, even though nobody produces off-spec fuel.

The President had betrayed the seeming crass cluelessness at his maiden encounter with the media at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

Indicating that he will not investigate the matter, he said the National Petroleum Authority’s revelation that the off-spec fuel sector is not regulated shows that the BOST MD, Alfred Boateng, had done nothing wrong.

Interestingly, several weeks back, it came to light that the claim that the sector is not regulated are not true, because there are companies that have been specially licensed by the NPA to deal in off-spec products.

Glasbrown Limited and Betcco Investments have since come up as companies that had long been licensed by the NPA to operate as waste oil processing companies.

The President’s gloss over the illegality of the sale of the 5million litres of contaminated fuel to Zupp Oil and Movenpiina, which are unlicensed, is also seen as being tantamount to the endorsement of illegality, because the NPA Act 691 makes it clear that, “A person shall not engage in a business or commercial activity in the downstream industry unless that person has been granted a license for the purpose by the Board (NPA).”

Meanwhile, even the President’s implication that contaminated fuel has always been sold by BOST, through the claim that off-spec products have in the past even been sold to individuals, has long been denied by the former BOST MD, Kwame Awuah-Darko.

Mr. Awuah-Darko points out under his three- year tenure, not even a single drop of contaminated fuel was sold.

According to Edward Combat, Special Assistant to Mr. Awuah- Darko, “the only thing that was sold in 3 years (under Awuah Darko) was SLOP and the total quantity of SLOP that was sold was 954,000 litres.”

Slop or sludge, which is popularly known as ‘dirty oil,’ is a mixture of sediment, water and other impurities that settle to the bottom of fuel storage tanks holding fuel on storage. Contaminated fuel is a mixture, usually accidental, of two or more refined fuel, such as petrol and diesel.

According to Mr. Awuah-Darko’s assistant, “The only time, there was contamination of fuel at BOST (under Awuah-Darko) was on the 24th of December 2013, and it was 200,000 litres. It was blended and corrected and sold at the market value.”

And so, per the fact, while Kwame Awuah-Darko reblended 200,000 litres of fuel that had accidentally contaminated when he was MD at BOST, Alfred Obeng Boateng has sold a gargantuan 5million litres of contaminated to two unlicensed companies.

President Akufo-Addo, therefore, seemed to be inflicting ignorance on the public when he implied at the maiden encounter with the press that BOST has always produced contaminated fuel and sold it to the public.

As contaminated fuel is not deliberately produced, but is the result of accidental pollution, and BOST in the past had only sold slop, the President’s claim appears to indicate that he is totally clueless about the BOST matter.

Public interest groups have also pointed out that, arrangements at BOST have established the situation where the prevention of fuel contamination is the responsibility of companies that BOST has hired to take charge of fuel storage and, therefore, the 5million litres contamination should be surcharged on such companies.

Among the companies named are TLS and KMS. Deeply Concerned Ghanaians, a public interest group, has said the contamination of, as much as 5million litres of fuel, is very suspicious, because of the watchdog roles that the TSL and KMS were supposed to play.

“Officials indicate that the contamination was a result of the displacement of petrol in the ABB pipeline into a diesel shore tank at BOST. This we find very surprising. It definitely must be the first time ever. It is almost impossible.

“Prior to the discharge of any cargo through the ABB pipeline, there are pre-berthing meetings in which BOST is represented together with the operator of the ABB facility and the owners of the products to be discharged among others. Information on the type of product to be displaced in the pipeline would be discussed and noted by all.

“The operators of the ABB facility (KMS) liaise with the managers of the BOST APD facility (TSL) before discharge is done. No party commences operations blindly.

“Please bear in mind that the BOST depot is managed by TSL limited who is paid about USD300,000 monthly (previously USD600,000) as management fees.

“This kind of contamination can only be a function of malice or extreme negligence,” the group stated in a letter to President Akufo-Addo over the issue.

It explained that if it is negligence that caused the contamination, then it is a result of bad advice to BOST by the service providers on hire.

“Negligence in that, Kpone Marine Services (KMS) may have advised BOST/TSL wrongly on the type of product being displaced in the pipeline or BOST/TSL may just have wrongly opened the petrol tank valves instead of the diesel tank valves.

“Reference to negligence… where KMS may have wrongly indicated the type of product in the pipeline, it must be held fully liable and not BOST. Where the wrong valves may have been opened to displace the pipeline cargo, TSL as managers of the depot must be questioned. They have responsibility for the management of the depot. They determine and designate appropriate tanks to receive each cargo. They also authorize actions and inactions in the depot.”

In addition to holding TSL and KMS responsible for the contamination, the DCG said, BOST had the choice and capacity to re-blend to correct the contamination just like Awuah-Darko did.

“We have conferred with many past and present officials of BOST, TOR and the NPA and have been advised that never has contaminated products been sold to anyone before. It is, therefore, wrong for anyone to claim it is a normal practice. Contaminated products are simply treated by suppressing the less dominant fuel using huge volumes of high quality versions of the dominant fuel. In this case, you will require high quality diesel. Our checks also indicate that in this case, 95 parts of the high-quality product will be required to blend 5 parts of contaminated products. This translates into BOST needing about 95mn litres. Please bear in mind that BOST has a diesel storage capacity at the depot of 109.25 million litres. Also note that products at BOST are comingled. This means that importers do not have isolated tanks for each of their imports.”

President Akufo-Addo’s heavy reliance on the BNI report to conclude that Alfred Obeng Boateng has done no wrong has also left questions in the air.

That report, which was seen to have betrayed so much porosity, including not publishing names of other companies that had applied for the off-spec fuel, and who the owners of Zupp Oil and Movenpiina are, has been pooh-poohed by experts.



Source: Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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