The Board of Directors of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has said that they hoped to have had the opportunity to engage the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and the Attorney General on the refinery’s proposed rehabilitation project.
The OSP had written to the management of TOR to suspend negotiations for the proposed partnership with Torentco Asset Management Limited, as the Office commenced analysis of the risk of corruption with respect to the proposed partnership.
This follows a petition from the General Transport, Petroleum, and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU) presented to the OSP to investigate the deal.
But reacting to the letter, the Board, in a statement, indicated that “the Board would have hoped for the opportunity to engage both the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Attorney General prior to the publication of their letters.
These letters, which have been widely circulated by the media and consumed by well-intentioned members of the public, have naturally caused a degree of consternation in the public domain.”
The board and management of TOR said they would avail themselves of the OSP for any and all documentation required, indicating that they were certain that a better understanding of the issues and processes would allow the project to have a chance of being implemented.
“The issues raised in the Attorney General’s letter are well understood by the board and management of TOR but happen to be items that are expected to be confirmed as part of the final due diligence and the completion of the various conditions precedent to the transaction,” it added.
It stated that prior to the closing of the lease agreement, several conditions precedent remained to be completed, including the upfront payment by TEPL of US$2.107 million, approval of the NPA Refiner Licence, and approval of the transaction by TOR stakeholders (SIGA, MoE, and MoF).
Other conditions are the funding of a maintenance reserve account with US$800,000 (this account has already been established, and TEPL is currently poised to deposit US$1 million to assist with necessary early remedial works at the refinery) and the completion of the final due diligence report to the satisfaction of TOR stakeholders.
It noted that the Board of TOR was committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, ethics, and governance in the discharge of its duties and in keeping with the personal values of its members, adding that the transaction was in line with that.
It stated that an important outcome of the transaction, if implemented, would be the ability for the company to put in place a concrete repayment plan to settle its current outstanding statutory debts and then to use the period of stability in TOR to allow management, under a separate exercise, to develop a broader restructuring plan for the residual significant commercial debt liabilities.
The proposed lease agreement, they added, offered the prospect of returning TOR to profitability, ensuring the rehabilitation of its equipment, and securing the consistent processing of crude oil, ultimately positioning the company with a wider range of longer-term strategic options.
The Board said it was saddened and disappointed by the precipitous action taken by the leaders of the GTPCWU, both nationally and at TOR, indicating that the union had taken it upon themselves to jump to conclusions without engaging management or the Board to ascertain the facts.
“It is unclear what has motivated such behaviour by the leaders of GTPCWU, but the board and management will conduct an internal process to understand and deal with this.”