BY JOSEPH NANA YAW COBBINA
Vivo Energy Ghana Limited has noted several publications in the print and electronic media indicating that the Company is operating unlawfully in the downstream petroleum sector of the country. Vivo Energy would like to set the record straight by clarifying this issue pertaining to its operations in Ghana as follows:
– ? ?Vivo Energy Ghana Limited is legally operating in Ghana. The company was issued with an Oil Marketing Company (OMC) licence by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) for a period of one year effective 1st January to 31st December 2014. This licence is subject to renewal annually and the application for renewal dated 27th October 2014 has been submitted to the NPA.
– ? ?By letters dated 3rd November 2014 and 15th December 2014, the NPA informed Vivo Energy Ghana Limited that its application for renewal would not be approved pending the increase in local participation in the equity of the company from the current approximately 18% to 25% by the release of about 8% shares of the shareholding of the majority shareholder, Vivo Energy Ghana Holdings B.V (Vivo Energy) to Ghanaian entities.
– ? ?Prior to the acquisition of the shares in the company (then called Shell Ghana Limited) from the Shell group, Vivo Energy agreed and committed to increase local participation in the Company although there is no legal requirement to do so. Section 12 of the NPA Act, Act 691 prescribes persons who qualify for licences to operate in the downstream petroleum industry and Section 12(b) specifies in respect of companies ?A body corporate registered under the Companies Act 1963, Act 179?. The Act does not specify any minimum Ghanaian shareholding requirement for qualification.
– ? ?Although there is no legal requirement for the majority shareholder to cede 8% of its shareholding to local participants, Vivo Energy agreed, as a responsible foreign investor, to divest the 8% shares to achieve the 25% Ghanaian equity in the Company. Vivo Energy is currently in discussions with local entities who have expressed interest in acquiring the 8% shares.
– ? ?Throughout this period, Vivo Energy Ghana Limited has attended regular meetings with the NPA and kept the NPA fully informed of the proposed divestment process and timetable. Furthermore, Vivo Energy Ghana Limited has at all times cooperated with the NPA and has complied with the process agreed with the NPA.
– ? ?The NPA has acknowledged this fact in its Statement of Defence filed in the suit entitled KWEKU KWARTENG & ANOTHER and SHELL GHANA LIMITED, NPA & 3 OTHERS. The NPA in its defence filed in the Fast Track High Court stated as follows:
?any insistence by the Board of the 5TH Defendant (NPA) that they have at least 50% of their shares being held by Ghanaian citizens was bound to raise legal challenges about regulatory taking and the sale under duress of the interest of their foreign shareholders?
?The NPA further stated that ?the Defendants (which included Shell Ghana Limited now Vivo Energy Ghana Limited ) have been validly and lawfully issued with petroleum marketing licences and no justifiable legal reason pursuant to the provisions of Act 691 has been canvassed by the Plaintiffs to warrant the revocation of such licences?
– ? ?The Plaintiff in the above suit, Mr. Kweku Kwarteng, MP for Obuasi West has to date failed to pursue the legal action instituted on the 14th August 2013 for determination of the matter. He has rather tabled an urgent question in Parliament on 14th December 2014, over a year later claiming that Vivo Energy Ghana Limited is operating illegally in Ghana which is factually incorrect.
– ? ?Vivo Energy Ghana Limited is committed to doing business ethically and in compliance with all laws and shall continue to operate as a good corporate citizen of the Republic of Ghana. Furthermore, Vivo Energy Ghana Limited is committed to provide quality Shell products to its customers in Ghana to contribute to the economic growth of Ghana and local businesses.