A deputy Minister of Energy, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, has charged players in the oil and petroleum industry to take advantage of the global digital revolution to restructure the operations of the industry, reduce cost and ensure competitive pricing of petroleum products.
He said because the industry and its infrastructure could become targets of cybercrime, the security and safety of petroleum installations, workers, industry players and communities with petroleum industries must be a priority in the risk management plans of stakeholders.
Dr Adam, who gave the advice when he addressed the opening of the third Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GhIPCON) in Accra yesterday, said it would also reduce cost of operations and ensure competitive pricing of petroleum products.
“The growing boundaries of the petroleum industry in West Africa exposes us to significant risk and danger of disruption, particularly the physical infrastructure on which the industry is built. The industry is also associated with inefficiencies leading to various forms of rent seeking, higher cost of operations and poor service delivery,” he stated.
Mr Adam said the ministry was working with the National Security Secretariat to implement an energy security policy aimed at protecting critical infrastructure and the sustainability of the petroleum industry.
He, therefore, urged industry players, especially the private sector and consumers, to cooperate with his outfit as it rolled out various measures to implement the policy.
The conference, which is on the theme: ‘ Regional collaboration : A catalyst for transformation.’ was organised by the Ministry of Energy and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), in partnership with the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors and the Association of Oil Marketing Companies.
Currently, Dr Adam said his outfit was exploring new digital pathways in the distribution of the heavily subsidised pre-mix fuel to deal with issues of diversion and inefficiencies.
Dr Amin further urged the NPA to develop and implement a digitisation plan to expand our digital reach in the petroleum value chain across the country.
The deputy minister said the vision of the government was to ensure competitive pricing for quality refined petroleum products in the sub region through the expansion and improvement in existing infrastructure, since the prices for quality refined products paid by consumers had micro and macroeconomic consequences.
Throwing more light on the challenges in the petroleum downstream sector, the deputy Energy Minister said in spite of the dominance of the downstream sector in the oil industry in the country, it still had shortfalls in policy and regulatory gaps.
However, he said, the challenges had provided the opportunity to establish resilient systems in addressing them.
“We have also imposed greater responsibility on sector players to be relentless in their efforts to ensure they remain competitive,” he added.
To realise the goal of an efficient and effective downstream sector meeting domestic and export requirement for refined petroleum products, Dr Adam explained that “government shall focus on the optimisation of the development of downstream infrastructure, clean cooking solutions, strategic stock management, increased access to petroleum products, adherence to health, safety, security and environmental standards, carbon footprint reduction, improved quality of petroleum products, as well as local content and participation.”
These policy issues, he said, were important features of the petroleum industry in the sub region.
He, therefore, called on the players of the industry in the West African sub-region to work to harmonise their respective policies under the ECOWAS and embark on the development of shared infrastructure and aggressively link our industries to make them more efficient.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr Alhassan Tampuli, said technology- based schemes and projects, such as the petroleum product marking scheme, bulk road vehicle tracking projects and the enterprise relational data-based management soft ware had helped the authority to efficiently monitor and ensure the integrity of quality and quantity of products to consumers.
“We have also come to a point where we are working towards delivering LPG to consumers in a safer and more efficient manner using the cylinder recirculation model of LPG distribution.
Piloting will begin in October, this year, at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region and Kwaebirem in the Dekyembuor District of the Eastern Region,” he stated .
To that end , he said, the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company was producing 37,000 cylinders for the project.
On smuggling, he said, smuggling through offshore routes, by roads and unapproved points, dumping of gas oil under declaration and poor quality products all led to the country losing as much as $200 million per annum of tax revenue.
He said over 300, 000 metric tonnes of annual consumption was unreported while the Unified Petroleum Fund also recorded about $12 million losses per annum.
Mr Tampuli said the NPA, in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Navy and other security agencies, including the usage of its digital solutions, to help tackle the issue.