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17.10.2002 General News

No Fuel Increase - Ministry

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THE Ministry of Energy has stated that no firm decision has been taken to increase the prices of petroleum products.

It has, however, indicated that there will be continual review of prices of petroleum products as and when the price of crude oil goes up on the world market.

Mr Kwame Owusu, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Energy was reacting to speculations of an imminent price increase of petroleum products in an interview in Accra yesterday.

There has been intermittent shortage of petroleum products on the market, particularly in Accra where drivers have been queuing at filling stations. While the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) is blaming the fuel stations for deliberately hoarding the products in anticipation of an increase in prices, the fuel station managers on the other hand are accusing TOR for not releasing the products to them.

The Minister of Finance , Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, told GTV last week that fuel price increases were inevitable. Mr Owusu said the price of crude oil has continued to rise on the world market "but I can say that there is no decision yet to increase the prices of petroleum products". He said the fact that a decision has not been taken does not mean that there will not be any increase in the prices of the products at all, adding that "there cannot be a time frame for the price increases".

Mr Owusu said an unfavourable situation may arise in the Gulf Region where most of the crude oil is imported from and that will push prices up, adding that “when such a thing happens and the situation becomes unbearable, then the government may be compelled to review the prices accordingly.”

He said conditions in the Gulf Region are unpredictable as there may be an increase in production which may lower prices as well as cuts in production which may also push up prices.

He mentioned, for instance, that the national demand for premium is 10,000 tonnes per week but the refinery, having noticed that there was panic buying as a result of the speculations of an imminent price increase, released 11,000 tonnes. "For gas oil, the refinery released 15,295 tonnes instead of 12,000 tonnes, while in the case of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) 2,000 tonnes were supplied instead of 1500 tonnes.

Mr Owusu said the refinery, upon the completion of the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking Plant, is able to process more fuel for the market. The ¢1.6 trillion processing plant at the refinery is capable of processing 14,000 barrels of petroleum residue a day.

He said with this, the refinery has become even more efficient and will be able to even export some of its products because it is producing far more than the national requirement.

"As far as we are concerned, the refinery has put on the market enough products to meet the demands of the public," he said.

Mr Owusu said to ensure that the dealers do not hoard the products in anticipation of higher prices, a task force comprising representatives of the Energy Commission, Oil Marketing Companies, the Ministry of Energy and TOR have begun random inspection of filling stations.

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