The Herald is picking up mixed signals as to the real owners of the 600,000 tonnes of Russian fuel, which have been shipped and stored in Ghanaian tanks revealed by the international business news network, Bloomberg, which the Akufo-Addo government has kept mute on.
Whilst, some have linked the consignment to a Tema-based company by name Platon, others have sought to tie it to the government of Ghana, saying Platon doesn’t have the capacity to take delivery of such a huge consignment as the company can only refine a paltry 20, 000 tonnes.
The Herald’s checks on the current position of Theseus, the Crude Oil Tanker carrying the huge consignment said, it is “at West Africa reported 8 days ago by AIS. The vessel is en route to GH TEMA, sailing at a speed of 12.7 knots and expected to arrive there on Feb 24, 12:00. The vessel THESEUS (IMO: 9304825, MMSI 341750000) is a Crude Oil Tanker built in 2006 (17 years old) and currently sailing under the flag of St Kitts & Nevis– an island country and microstate located in the West Indies.
But the story gets murkier on the claim that Deputy Energy Minister, Agyapa Mercer, had recently announced that the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) was going to start refining crude oil, hence the fuel is being linked to the government as what the minister talked about.
However, industry players who have sought to link the owners of the 600,000 tonnes of Russian fuel consignment to Platon which has been linked to both the Chinese, as well as some Eastern European countries, are of the view that even if TOR does not own it, it will eventually be refining and selling it in Ghana since it has the capacity to do.
There are, however, questions being thrown around as to why Ghana will be taking delivery of Russian fuel although President Nana Akufo-Addo, has openly spoken against Russia’s military operations in Ukraine with Ghana voting twice at the United Nations (UN) in disapproval of the Russian.
The second question is what will be the reaction of Western countries to Ghana over 600,000 tonnes of fuel from Russia, especially so when the country is begging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a US$3 billion bailout. Many believe there could be sanction if it’s established that Ghana had received the fuel, which is yet to be pumped out of the Theseus.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union and US barred fuel imports from the former Soviet leader.
Bloomberg reports that its tanker tracking data show that “The last signal from the vessel was on Sunday evening, by which time unloading had not begun. Its cargo was due to be pumped into storage tanks in Tema”.
This comes on the back of the Ghana Government’s controversial gold-for-oil policy.
Bloomberg, had reported that “a cargo of Russian oil is heading for storage tanks in Ghana, a nation that exports crude itself and is on the doorstep of two regional supply powerhouses.
The development suggests that traders could be scouring the market for new buyers of Russian barrels after the European Union stopped almost all seaborne imports from the country in December.
The bloc’s measures made Moscow hugely reliant on Chinese and Indian purchases.
The tanker Theseus arrived in Ghana’s territorial waters on Friday carrying about 600,000 barrels of Russian oil from a port in the Black Sea, according to tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Its cargo was due to be pumped into storage tanks in Tema, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The last signal from the vessel was on Sunday evening, by which time unloading had not begun.
Russia is under pressure to sustain its oil revenue after the Group of Seven and the European Union imposed punishing sanctions on the country’s energy industry.
Almost all European Union companies are prohibited from buying Russian crude and petroleum products or providing important services such as insurance to nations that buy such exports above a capped price.
In December, Russia’s petroleum revenues dropped nearly 20 percent from the previous month after the price cap triggered big discounts on the nation’s crude, according to the International Energy Agency.
The crude will be stored in tanks at the Tema Oil Refinery, the people said. The firm didn’t respond to requests for comment.
When the tanker was en route to the country, the CEO of Ghana’s National Petroleum Authority CEO said the shipment would be blocked if it was bound for the country. The NPA didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment after it reached the West African nation’s territorial waters.
The shipment to Tema would be the first time Russian oil has been delivered to a West African country since at least October 2018, tracking data show.
Ghana itself is a small oil exporter, shipping an average of about 140,000 barrels a day over the past six months, according to tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s also next to Nigeria and Angola, the two biggest suppliers in sub-Saharan Africa.
After sanctions were imposed on Russia, the nation directed crude exports toward China and India, upending global oil flows and the maritime industry.
With Europe previously having been by far the largest market for Russian oil, that narrowed the nation’s pool of buyers dramatically. It also meant the barrels had to be discounted at the point of export to compensate for relatively high delivery costs.