Government Must Come Clear On The 600,000 Barrels of Russian Crude Oil Aboard Mt. Theseus

The Institute for Energy Security (IES) has taken note of a roughly 600,000 barrels crude oil consignment that arrived at the Tema port on Friday, 26th February 2023 aboard the vessel MT Theseus, which Bloomberg reports as “Russian Oil to be stashed in Ghana as pool of buyers shrinks”.

Documents intercepted by the IES suggest that Planton Gas Oil Ghana Limited is the importer, and has requested for a crude oil storage space of approximately 80,000 metric tonne (MT), equivalent to 600,000 barrels from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), after nominating the facility as the discharge destination.

The IES can confirm that the vessel in question is presently at the Tema port anchorage and has issued notice of readiness (NOR) to the importer, awaiting to berth at either the Single Point Mooring (SPM) system or the Tema Oil Jetty for onward discharge into storage tank(s).

The Institute can also confirm that samples of the crude has been taken for laboratory testing by nominated Inspectors and Agents, with the support of staffs at the TOR facility.

The IES can also confirm that the vessel is free from any interception and is only awaiting clearance from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to berth, and start discharge into TOR’s crude oil tanks.

This the IES finds as troubling given that few days ago, NPA the regulator of the downstream petroleum sector had given a strong indication that should the MT. Tedeus crude oil vessel in question enter Ghana waters it will cause the interception of the cargo. Instead the vessel MT. Theseus sits free, receiving the cooperation of state actors, and likely to discharge into a national oil facility.

More troubling is the fact that Platon Gas Oil Ghana Ltd processing and distribution capacity is a very small, for a size of 80,000 MT crude cargo. The IES finds that between January and December 2022, Platon could on process and distribute just 2,849 MT of Residual Fuel Oil (RFO) and Gasoil, representing just 3.6% of the crude oil consignment under discussion. This raises eyebrows, and the IES is tempted to think that the named receiver of the crude cargo Platon Gas Oil Ltd. is only a frontal.

Ghanaians can recollect that in late December 2022 the Deputy Minister of Energy, Andrew Egyapa Mercer gave another assurance that the Tema Oil Refinery will commence full operation by end of February 2023. Could this crude cargo aboard MT. Theseus be the first parcel of crude for TOR to start full operation, after 2 years of shutdown? Could this crude oil consignment be an extension of government’s Gold for Oil Program?

To clear doubts in the minds of Ghanaians and industry watchers, the IES calls on government to speak and clarify issues surrounding the arrival of the crude vessel into the country. Government must let Ghanaians know why it failed to block the vessel as suggested by the boss of NPA Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, few days before the arrival of the cargo.