National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has confiscated 73,000 litres of crude oil and 108,000 litres of diesel from smugglers on the high seas in the Western Region.
The separate operations were led by the Navy and Marine Police between January and April 2023.
The Western Regional Manager of NPA, Mrs. Sandra Aidoo made this known at a media engagement in Takoradi on Thursday.
“We initially confiscated 108,000 litres of diesel on the high seas in January. The smugglers were arrested and are currently standing trial at the law court. The other was in April when 73,000 litres of crude oil was confiscated,” she said.
Mrs. Aidoo said the suspected smugglers of the diesel were being prosecuted in court and indicated that the NPA would determine what happens to the product after the final determination of the case.
“We still have the product at our disposal, and we shall determine what happens to it after the final determination of the case in court. For the crude oil, the smugglers bolted, so we have transported the product to Accra, and the public will know what happens to it,” she added.
Mrs. Aidoo stated that the activities of the smugglers were affecting the quality of fuel distributed at the pumps since some filling station owners purchase the products at cheap prices on the blind side of the Authority.
“These cases are very rampant in the Western Region, and it is affecting our operations. These products are not taxed, and the smugglers sell them directly to the stations. The quality of such products cannot be guaranteed as well, so we should not allow them into the market,” she said.
The media engagement organized by the Communications Department was to highlight NPA’s activities in the petroleum downstream industry and respond to industry-related questions from the media.
Mrs. Aidoo said the NPA had also, in collaboration with security agencies, closed down and revoked the licenses of four filling stations in the region for failing to meet the Authority’s operational requirements.
“As part of our monitoring exercises, four retail outlets that did not meet our score were closed down. They are not operating as I speak because they do not meet our requirements,” she said.
In her presentation, the Legal Manager at the Legal Directorate of NPA, Ms. Farida Ali-Musah said the Authority had been granted prosecutorial powers by the Attorney General to prosecute crimes in the oil supply chain in the country.
She said the Executive Instrument (EI) 378, which the Authority obtained in 2020, was to enable the NPA to ensure the successful prosecution of cases in the petroleum downstream industry and stem the tide of crime in the sector.
Ms. Ali-Musah mentioned that engaging in an activity in the downstream petroleum industry without NPA certified licensed, misapplication of the prescribed petroleum pricing formula and tempering with Bulk Road Vehicle (BRV) tracking and volume monitoring were some of the crimes that would be prosecuted.
Others were false statements and withholding of material information, obstruction, or interference with investigation and selling unmarked fuel.
Taking his turn, the Head of Planning of NPA, Mr Dominic Aboagye, said 80 per cent of the country’s fuel consumption was dependent on importation while 20 per cent was produced locally.
He said the government and the private sector were making efforts, including the construction of a refinery by a private entity to improve local production of fuel products.
Welcoming the media on behalf of the Board and Management of NPA, the Corporate Affairs Director, Mrs. Maria Edith Oquaye said last year’s media engagements across the country focused on pricing and quality of petroleum products and indicated that this year’s sensitization was on the processes in the supply of petroleum products and the requirements for sitting filling stations.
For his part, a member of the Governing Board of NPA and Chairman of the Consumer Services sub-committee, Mr Kwami Sefa Kayi, lauded the NPA for the sensitization drive and stressed that the media engagement was to get journalists well-informed about the operations of NPA and communicate same to the public.