Fourteen oil marketing companies (OMCs) found culpable in the illegal diversion of premix fuel have been banned from the distribution of premix fuel supplies.
The decision was taken jointly by the ministries of Energy and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, as well as the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the National Premix Fuel Committee (NPFC), after they had discovered massive diversions of premix fuel at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
The identities of the 14 OMCs are yet to be disclosed.
At an emergency meeting in Accra last Wednesday, the ministries of Energy and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the NPA and the NPFC resolved that all premix fuel outlets would be reviewed to ensure that they complied with standard requirements.
In a six-point statement issued at the end of their meeting, the stakeholders resolved to close down premix fuel outlets that fell short of the requirements.
It said preliminary checks had revealed that the perpetrators of the diversion of premix fuel were made up of some OMCs, landing beach committees and transporters and assured the public that pragmatic steps were being taken to curtail such acts.
It said the participants resolved that the supply of premix fuel to the Volta Lake region would be restricted to the various ports (market centres).
The statement said there must be improved collaboration among the ministries of Energy and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the NPA and the NPFC.
It said going forward, increased and wider stakeholder consultation would be employed in the premix sector and the NPFC would cease supply to the suspected OMCs, while the NPA and the NPFC would continue with investigations and bring to book those who would be found culpable.
The premix diversion scandal came at a time when the country’s fishing industry was on the brink of collapse due to numerous challenges facing fisher folk, including the lack of premix fuel and the high cost of the product.
Reports alleged that in January 2017, for instance, premix fuel consignments loaded from TOR were not delivered to the intended destinations as indicated on the invoices and returns of OMCs.
A document from the NPA indicated that there were 12 major diversions of premix fuel in January alone.
In all instances, although the products were documented to be bound for the Volta Region, they ended up in Accra, according to information obtained by the NPA’s BRV tracking system and returns.
The fishing industry was adversely affected due to reasons including the lack of premix fuel. In July 2017, fishing communities experienced a massive shortage of premix fuel as the fishing season reached its peak.
That affected the country’s fish supply, precipitating excess importation of fish and fish products from other countries.
Although the NPA identified the challenge and wrote a series of letters to the NPFC informing it about the development between February and October this year, no action was taken.
In one of the letters, the NPA said: “It was also noted that officials of the landing beach committees (LBCs) of those intended destinations have signed and stamped the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) fuel delivery forms as having received the product.”