Managing Director (MD) of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company Limited (BOST), Mr. Edwin Alfred Provencal, has revealed that the operationalization of the Tema-Akosombo pipeline is being hampered by the activities of gas thieves.
He, therefore, indicated that until an intrusion and leak detection system is completed to secure the pipeline, it will not run.
Explaining the situation, the MD said, “We have repaired it, only that we are not going to use it now. Anytime we push water into the pipeline, 100% of the water gets to the other end, but anytime you push petroleum products, it looks like there are some dwarves on the way that feed on those pipelines, so we have decided that we are not going to use the pipeline until we put electronic eyes on it.”
According to him, “So we are installing a Leak Detection System that will detect any leaks in the pipeline, and an Intrusion Detection System that can tell us as soon as anybody tries getting close to the pipeline, an alarm will sound, and then in collaboration with the security agencies, we will know exactly where attempt is being made.”
Furthermore, Mr. Provencal said BOST is in the process of acquiring some military-grade surveillance drones to aid in the detection and deterrence of thieves who have made it their business to siphon gas from the lines.
Speaking at the Ministry of Information yesterday on the work of BOST in the last five years, he said that work had been completed on the Tema-Buipe pipeline to ensure constant gas supply to the Northern sector while simultaneously reducing the company’s operating costs.
He said transportation via the gas pipeline is the cheapest means of transporting gas in the country, followed by water transport, rail and road transport.
Mr Provencal also hinted at plans to build a pipeline that will transport gas to Kumasi to supply users in that part of the country.
He stated that BOST and the Ministry of Energy foresee some form of pushback from gas tanker operators should this plan be carried through.
He said, “We know that pipeline will cause a lot of problems by dislodging a lot of the transport owners out of business, so the Minister of Energy Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh has directed that we have to ensure that 20% of equity in that project is given to the transport owners.”
Another key project he revealed is the plan by BOST to build Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank farms across all BOST depots.
This forms part of medium-term transition plans to move away from the consumption of fossil fuels to renewables.
The upgrade of all BOST deports is however set to commence in the last quarter of this year, he revealed.
He gave the assurance that the rehabilitation of its dilapidated farm tanks and upgrading of depots would continue across the country in 2023.
Regarding achievements chalked by BOST in the last five years, he indicated that they had managed to pay about $612 million, which is about 98% of BOST’s trade debts, which amounted to about $624 million. About $427 million of this amount came from BOST’s internally generated funds.
He also stated that BOST has managed to clear about GH¢384 million of the GH¢416 million it owed in loans. Impressively, some GH¢187 million of this amount was paid off using BOST’s internally generated funds.
In the same period, BOST has managed to reduce its Bulk Distribution Company (BDC) claims from $37 million to about $11 million, following a forensic audit.
He also told indicated that BOST is also up to date on its tax arrears of GH¢47 million, covering the period 2010-2014.
Mr Provencal said BOST is positioning itself to take advantage of the $970 million petroleum re-export market in the West African Sub-region.
He said this will help the country to mobilise extra revenue to cushion the depreciating cedi and increase the Company’s profitability.
Currently, BOST has strategic petroleum reserves that could take the country between 50 and 55 days.
The MD of BOST said he took over the affairs of the Company in 2017 when it was in financial turmoil, owing foreign suppliers up to $624 million, loan indebtedness to domestic banks up to GHc416 million and Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs) up to $37 million.
Also, the majority of its network of infrastructure including farm tanks, barges and pipelines were dysfunctional due to lack of maintenance, thus crippling its sources of revenue generation.
However, Mr. Provencal said with efficient operational management, coupled with a GH¢30 million loan support from the National Petroleum Authority and BOST margin increase from three to six pesewas, BOST paid the $624 million trade liability to its foreign suppliers and made about GH¢460 million profit after tax in 2021.
Moving forward in its business portfolio in the coming years, the MD of BOST said, it would move from just enhancing operational excellence towards aggressive growth in the business of transporting petroleum products across the country as well as to landlocked nations like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to improve its sustainability and profitability.
More so, it would embark on rebranding of its corporate image, improve its corporate culture and human capital development as well as strengthen its trade partnerships.
Also, all individuals found culpable for various financial malfeasance after the audit of its financial statements either resigned or undergoing disciplinary action.
He gave the assurance that the Company had instituted stringent measures to avert future contamination of its petroleum products.
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