The minister said BOST never erred in transacting that business with the energy firm, Movenpiina.
According to Mr Agyarko, investigations so far conducted by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the National Security and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) on the contaminated products had established that the fuel had not spilled onto the retail market for sale to vehicle owners and drivers.
These came to light yesterday at a press conference organized by the Ministry of Energy in Accra.
Mr Agyarko told the media that “on the basis of previous practice, there was no wrongdoing at the Bulk Oil Storage & Transportation Company on the sale of the 5 million litres of contaminated products.”
“We wish to advise that social commentators will in future, cross-check their facts before making allegations that have the tendency of causing unnecessary panic among consumers of petroleum products,” Mr Boakye Agyarko pointed out.
He also said the investigations revealed that the Managing Director (MD) of BOST, Alfred Obeng Boateng, does not own Movenpiina – the company that bought the contaminated products – adding that “it is not true that the address or phone number of Movenpiina is the same as that of the BOST MD.”
The minister said, “BOST received expressions of interest for the purchase of the contaminated products from 15 companies and Movenpiina offered the highest price of GH¢1.30, which formed the basis for its selection.”
The energy minister said the contaminated fuel had been fully accounted for and had not been sold to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) as being speculated.
He revealed that the fuel was currently “being quarantined” at the various depots and does not pose any danger to public safety, adding that his ministry would review and introduce new regulations on the sale and discharge of contaminated fuels. Further, it would publish a competitive tender process based on transparent advertisement for the sale of products that have become contaminated.
Mr Agyarko further said the investigations by the BNI and the NPA had so far established that the contamination of the 5 million litres fuel occurred on January 18, 2017, by which time the current MD had not assumed office.
“BOST, as a matter of practice, had sold contaminated products as far back as 2014. Over 8 million litres of contaminated fuel were sold in 2015 and over 12 million litres were sold in 2016.”
He said the absence of a refining capacity at TOR precluded the possibility of saving the contaminated products through refining process.
“The sale of contaminated products has thus by far, been to individuals, union members and companies that have largely not been licensed by the NPA. From 2015 to 2016, a total of 49 unlicensed companies and individuals bought contaminated products from BOST. In the particular case of Movenpiina, which bought the 5 million litres of contaminated products, it was duly incorporated under the Companies Code of Ghana at the time the transaction occurred.”
Considering the issue of whether to have new codified processes for dealing with contaminated products, Mr Agyarko said his outfit would review and introduce new regulations on the sale and discharge of contaminated products; codify and publish widely for competitive tender process based on transparent advertisement for the sale of contaminated products and implement improved standard operating procedures at all petroleum depots, as well as ensure the management, operations and maintenance of the pipeline systems to prevent future occurrence of such accidents.
The energy ministry would offer continuous training and skill to upgrade the operators of BOST and other petroleum depots; control the evacuation and disposal of products under the direct supervision of the NPA; register and certify only corporate entities that would be designated to buy contaminated products directly from BOST.
Noting that the aforementioned “entities will be required to go back to NPA to file reconciled records of disposal,” he also said “no unlicensed company or union member can trade in contaminated products any longer.”
Meanwhile, the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in parliament has accused the BNI of trying to cover up the mess.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, told journalists in Accra yesterday that the BNI involvement the probe was an attempt by the government to shield the BOST managing director because of his political connection.
Mr Iddrisu described the action of the BNI as bizarre and an uncharacteristic development in the country.
“The BNI is acting in a manner that we do not only smell but we can sense a cover-up in respect of the matter of the selling of contaminated oil by BOST which matter borders on fraud, corruption and abuse of office.”
He asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to allow the ministerial committee to proceed with full investigation of the matter.
“We therefore think if Mr President means well in fighting corruption, he should not be seen supporting any cover-up and allow the ministerial committee to proceed henceforth with full investigation of the matter and report publicly,” he said.
BY Samuel Boadi