14:10, 27.Jul 2018
The explosion of a furnace at the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is threat to fuel security, Institute for Energy Security (IES) has said in a statement signed by Richmond Rockson, a Principal Research Analyst.
The new furnace was commissioned in mid-December 2016 and coincided with TOR’s receipt of it first indigenous crude oil from the Tweneboa-Enyera-Ntomme (TEN) field. It has been supportive of production until it exploded internally at 10:40am on Thursday.
Although the cause of explosion is not immediately known, the Institute for Energy Security says it is of the view that “the non-adherence to safety protocol and standard operating procedures, lack of adequate supervision, inexperience operating and production management personnel and complacency are many of the factors that could result in such an incident.”
The IES has thus called on the management of TOR, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Ministry of Energy and the government, as a matter of urgency, to launch an investigation into the incident to unravel the cause of the blow-up, and take steps to restore capacity while preserving the remaining production capacity.
“Anything short of these could jeopardise the country’s fuel security, threaten jobs, push back the gains made so far by TOR, turn the refinery to a storage terminal again, and impact negativity on the country’s socio-economic growth,” IES said.
After almost two years of inactivity, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) which had been plagued with technical, operational and financial challenges resumed full operation in February 2016.
During the period of the plant’s idleness, the refinery had became a mere storage facility. Skilled engineers and technicians left the country to the Gulf States in search of greener pastures. Fuel shortages became rampant and prices of fuel skyrocketed.
As a result, the resumption of operation at the country’s only refinery was welcome news to Ghanaians and industry watches who saw TOR as key for the success of the deregulated downstream petroleum sector, and also as a tool to ensure fuel security.
Until 26 January 2017, TOR had the capacity to supply approximately 61% of the country’s fuel demand. This was made possible after the completion of installation of the new furnace to replace the old furnace 01-F61 which broke down in 2013 and as a result forced the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) plant to drop to 28,000 barrels per stream day from a designed capacity of 45,000 barrels per stream day.