Fuel Situation in Ghana Said Precarious

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Fuel Situation in Ghana Said Precarious

Panafrican News Agency

September 15, 2000

Accra, Ghana

Ghana's Oil Marketing Companies warned Friday that the industry faces a precarious future as the refinery's ability to deliver keeps dwindling.

They are therefore suggesting an increase in the pump price of petroleum products to keep supplies running.

Sources close to the companies told the national news agency that the difficult situation follows the inability of the Tema Oil Refinery to access enough funds from the banks to meet supply requirements.

This is despite demands made to the mines and energy ministry amid government apparent unwillingness to make further increases during the election year.

World oil prices have doubled to more than 32 US dollars per barrel over the past one year, stoking protests world-wide, especially in Europe, as the effects of the crippling crude prices bite deep.

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed last weekend to increase production by three percent to bring down prices, but this has had very little effect.

An increase in the pump price of fuel triggers a chain reaction in Ghana with prices of goods and services shooting up.

The oil marketing companies have convened a meeting with the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company to quickly device a means of arriving at an amicable conclusion before the situation gets out of hand.

Industy sources confirmed that Tema refinery's difficult situation, saying if there should be any improvement in the situation it should come from the facility.

"TOR (Tema refinery) has problems of raising money and efforts to get government rise petroleum prices is not forthcoming," the sources said.

Indications are that government would not raise petroleum prices at this time of the year. The Bulk Oil Storage Ttransport company made this clear recently when it said that fuel prices will not go up, despite increasing international price pressures.

The high crude bills have knocked a big hole in the government's expenditure projections and this coupled with a crash of cocoa and gold prices, the country's major exports, have made the economy shaky.

The government announced a week ago that it is expecting some 600 million dollars in foreign exchange inflows between now and December.

Meanwhile, airline officials and fuel companies at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra say there is no problem with aviation fuel in the country.

"Everything is normal. We have enough aviation fuel," an official of an oil company said.

He said all their tanks were full and supplies were regular.

This was confirmed by an airline official, who said that planes from Lagos have been refuelling at the airport because of the fuel problems in the Nigerian economic capital.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 16, 2000

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