Many institutions and personalities continue to call on the government to institute a probe into the latest controversy at the state-owned Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) involving the sale of 1.8 million barrels of crude oil to an unlicensed company at a discounted price; BB Energy, but the government has remained tightlipped.
The Ministry of Energy led by Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko, who has oversight responsibility over BOST and National Petroleum Authority (NPA) led by Alhassan Tampuli, a statutory Agency clothed with the powers to regulate, oversee and monitor the petroleum downstream industry in the country are yet to comment on the matter.
For instance, BB Energy, which is supposed to be licensed by NPA before doing business in Ghana, has no such license.
The institutions were forcefully at the forefront of the 5 million litters oil contaminated saga involving the same institution last year, leading a ministerial investigations, but although several institutions, including the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), have called for investigations, both supervisory body and the regulatory body have turned deaf ears to the incessant demands.
The Institute for Energy Security (IES) and Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) have also waded into the scandal in which the country is believed to have lost a whopping GH¢28 million.
Aside BOST, selling the products below the prevailing market price, the full amount hasn’t been paid by the middleman since September, last year.
Additionally, the engagement of BB Energy by the state-owned oil company to sell the 1.8 million barrels of crude oil is shrouded in mystery with experts saying, the country has been cheated out badly.
Two members of the Mines and Energy Committee; the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bongo in the Upper East Constituency and MP for Odotobri Constituency in the Ashanti Region, believe there are issues to investigate as far as the 1.8 million barrels are concerned.
While the Bongo MP, Edward Bawa, is demanding a non-partisan experts’ investigation into the sale, the Odotobri MP Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, who also serves as the Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee, stated that BOST and other interested parties in the matter will be engaged to better inform the Committee on how to deal with the issue.
“We engaged BOST before this issue came up, and we were scheduled to meet them again when this issue came up. We want to take our time and meet them and do proper due diligence; we have to get the necessary documentation so that we can reach an informed decision,” he said.
Mr. Bawa, would, however, want his Committee to engage experts to probe the transaction devoid of governmental interferences to ensure that they come out with a very credible result.
With last year’s 5 million litres of contaminated petroleum product sale to Movinpiina by BOST also under very questionable circumstances at the back of his mind, Mr. Bawa warned, “this time round a nonpartisan committee of experts must be set up to investigate these issues very thoroughly”.
He added “please let the BNI or any security agency not allow itself be used to cover up any rot”.
In a statement copied to this paper, the former Director of Communication at the Energy Ministry under the John Mahama administration itemized some 13 points the probe should look at to aid their findings.
However, speaking on Upfront, a current affairs TV programme on the Joy News channel (MultiTV) on Wednesday, Mr. Bawa, said BOST’s defence of the alleged shady deal was fraught with inaccuracies.
“The [NPA Act] indicates clearly that to handle hydrocarbon materials, you will need a permission. BB Energy is buying the product from BOST and that’s trading. The Act indicates clearly that before you engage in such an exercise, you will need to have a permit,” he told show host Raymond Acquah.
Mr. Bawa, could not show which provision of the NPA Act expressly bars transactions between BOST and unlicensed company but stated: “BOST itself is regulated. Its actions are regulated by NPA. BOST by its own procedures is supposed to deal with licenced companies.”
The latest BOST scandal comes months after a similar scandal involving the sale of some five million litres of contaminated fuel to 38 unlicensed companies.
Tracing the origin of the 1.8 million barrels of crude, Mr Bawa revealed in a statement he had issued before the programme that a company called AOT had sold the barrels of oil to BOST in November 2016.
“The nature of the transaction was that the supply was done on an open account basis. This means that BOST did not need to establish a letter of credit (LC). BOST usually won’t pay for such a transaction until after 120 days. The current management of BOST has now gone ahead to sell the crude at a discounted price to an unlicensed company called BB Energy.”
The Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) CEO, has also expressed surprise at a transaction between the BOST and the unlicensed oil company, BB Energy.
Stating the position of the law, Senyo Hosi, said any company that wants to deal in petroleum products on Ghana’s shores is required to be duly licensed.
Mr. Hosi, said any company that wants to buy crude, finished products or contaminated products, has to register with the NPA.
Although, BB Energy could bring in petroleum products, the CBOD boss said the company needs a license to buy such products in the country.
“It can operate anything up to the shoreline of Ghana but anything that happened on our shores is regulated by the NPA,” he said.
The Institute for Energy Security (IES) also backed calls for a probe resulting in a loss of some GHS23million to the state.
Paa Kwesi Anamoah Sakyi, Executive Director of IES in an interview with Class FM backed the calls for probe into the matter saying “We support the call for probe because we have heard on various platforms that others are calling for a probe. The parliamentary select committee on Mines and Energy are calling for it, the Minority is also calling for it, we join these groups to say that [let’s probe].To put these matters to rest we’re calling for a probe as well.”
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) also pushed for a full-scale investigation into the sale of the crude oil.
PIAC Chairman, Dr. Steve Manteaw, said the controversial nature of the deal bothers on “state security” that must attract the attention of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
The PIAC boss, called on the BNI and EOCO to investigate the deal, failing which he said the Special Prosecutor will have to intervene.
“This is a matter for state security,” Dr. Manteaw said, adding the government must attach some seriousness to it.