A News Desk Report
The Management of the operations of the Bulk Oil Storage Company (BOST), is on the verge of being handed over to a company which though registered in Ghana, has majority Nigerian ownership and control.
Less than a month after government failed to convince Nigeria to increase substantially the supply of Gas to Ghana, BOST’s action could lead to persistent shortages of petroleum products in Ghana.
In the selection process which was allegedly shrouded in total secrecy, and suggestive of under the table dealings, industry players say “BOST has engaged a little known company, which has no track record of any business to speak of, and is not even registered with the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), to take charge of the management of the national strategic stock terminal and bulk transportation of petroleum products”.
BOST’s decision to contract an inexperienced foreign owned company that is not registered with the NPA as required by the laws of Ghana becomes more bizarre and indefensible, coming at a time when local Ghanaian companies have been compelled to invest substantial amounts in bulk distribution infrastructure and operations. The Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors estimates that its members, with support from their bankers have invested in excess of US$ 180 million in petroleum products tank farms in Ghana.
Under the new arrangements which BOST unveiled at a recent meeting of industry operators, the Nigerian company will have total responsibility for importing the bulk of Ghana’s petroleum products needs, including the very sensitive national strategic stocks.
The supply and security worries are compounded by the emerging evidence that the company BOST is handing its facilities over to, neither has a track record of substantial business in Ghana, nor is it a major player in Nigeria, where it has its parent company and majority shareholding.
“It must be an act of supreme irony that Ghana should look to Nigeria for expertise in the management of our nation’s bulk distribution and storage of our petroleum products, including the vitally sensitive national strategic stock”, the source averred.
According to the source, “BOST’s decision flies in the face of the evidence that Africa’s richest oil producing nation has not been able to turn its vast oil resources into petroleum products from the many moribund refineries dotted around the country”.
Nigeria has to import every drop of petroleum product it consumes. The constant fuel shortages and attendant queues that have plagued that country for several decades is the clearest evidence of the inherent danger posed to Ghana’s downstream petroleum industry by BOST’
“BOST is on the verge of placing the people and security of Ghana in clear and present danger and the Ministry of Energy should not allow BOST, a key strategic national asset, to be placed in inexperienced and foreign owned hands and also outside of the control of the national security apparatus, especially in the case of the national stock”, cautioned an Industry expert.
“This will also be in clear contravention of the President’s often quoted policy of encouraging local content in key sectors of our economy and the consumption of local goods and services”.
The New Crusading GUIDE has intercepted a copy of a petition sent by the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Distribution Companies to the Minister of Energy & the Board Chairman of BOST but credible sources say no response has been received from both officials while it is expected that the new arrangement will become effective this week.
Industry operators and experts, and Ghana’s business leaders have been surprised at the obvious disconnection between the strident promotion of the indigenous private sector and the engagement of a virtual foreign owned entity to take over BOST and the assets built and owned by the people of Ghana.